Google and NASCAR team up for April Fool's joke

While Google has indeed been developing ways to create vehicles that drive themselves, the company decided today to have a little April Fool's Day fun while also educating people about their autonomous car efforts. Google launched a new website today to "announce" its plans to field a stock car on the NASCAR circuit that would be self driven.

Obviously, this is not really happening but both Google and NASCAR are going all out on this April Fool's Day effort, complete with a video on NASCAR.com that shows other drivers talking about Google entering their racing league. Most of them, oddly enough, seem to welcome having a car drive itself on the track at 200 MPH so they can have a break from driving all those hours on the race course.

The website and video may be a funny piece of fiction but Google's efforts to create a true autonomous car is very much of a reality at the company. While we won't likely see robotic racing cars at Daytona Beach anytime soon, the idea of a car that can navigate and drive itself has a lot of practical applications, including eliminating most car wrecks and saving fuel if the technology is taken to its conclusion.

Image via Google

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While we won't likely see robotic racing cars at Daytona Beach anytime soon, the idea of a car that can navigate and drive itself has a lot of practical applications, including eliminating most car wrecks and saving fuel if the technology is taken to its conclusion.

Sorry but I have to disagree, pointing out there's no evidence that in the real world self driving vehicles will reduce either collisions or fuel consumption -- there won't be until it's tried, tested on a much, much larger scale than what Google's done to date.

Either assumption, that fuel economy would increase or the number of collisions would decrease, is based entirely on a 3rd assumption, that electronics & code can do a better job driving than humans. Now there are obviously cases where that is true, but not everyone is drunk behind the wheel, or accelerating full throttle from every stop light. It assumes that engineers &/or coders could imagine most every possible driving scenario, come up with a rule to handle all of them, & then write that code totally & completely bug free -- something they've failed to accomplish in any other endeavor. Making yet another assumption, that totally bug free software can be written that takes most every possible situation into account, you've then got to deal with mechanical hardware, which is subject to design & manufacturing flaws as well as just plain old failure. IN a nutshell you're imagining AI that outperforms humans in a wide open, not tightly controlled environment that's totally secured from any human intervention. We'll get to that point eventually, but by then will we still have cars as we know them today?

That's not to say Google's efforts are a total waste -- while we could debate whether that cash would be better spent reducing things like hunger, illness, death, & suffering, it's the nature of science & tech in general that each discovery & accomplishment is based in some part on work already done [just ask a patent attorney]. Sensors can detect things that the human senses are prone to miss, while radar &/or rangefinding are more accurate -- just like anti-lock brakes, this tech can make our cars/trucks safer & because of that might become commonplace rather than a high-end option. In the mean time marketing likes to hype, many [most?] engineers live in bubbles [ask any tech], and movies show us heroes (including cyborgs, robots etc.) battling tech.

mikiem said,

That's not to say Google's efforts are a total waste -- while we could debate whether that cash would be better spent reducing things like hunger, illness, death, & suffering

I'd rather have a car that is safe than 50 billion people living in a world that at this point can barely feed the 7.5 billion already living here

we are after all the only animal in the world that will keep breading even when there's not enough food to even feed ourselves

BBgamer said,
I literally laughed out loud when I saw the 'I'm steering lucky' text on the car on the video.

Years ago I worked in automotive. Cruise control had been around for decades, but was only then starting to find its way into low & mid-range cars as OEM standard equipment. Maybe once a year (that I knew about) someone would think it worked like the autopilot on a plane -- seriously. Of course those were the drivers that suffered nothing more serious than running onto the shoulder of the road.

Anyway, while I too think it's hilarious, I can't help but wonder how many folks don't realize it's a joke.