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Soon, cars will drive themselves…no, really they will

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By Shelley Spillman

Okay, I’ll admit I’m an ‘80s kid. I grew with movies such as “Robocop” and “Total Recall.”

Do you remember in the movie “Total Recall,” where there was an automated taxi driver called “Johnny Cab” that would have entire conversations with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character?

Well, that glimpse of the future might be on point now with the new Google driverless car.

The Google driverless car is a real thing and it’s currently reached more than 700,000 miles without any citation, according to Mountain View Police Department in Calif., where the vehicle has undergone test runs.

There’s actually some really neat technology that went into making this modified Toyota Prius.

The software program powering the car is called Google Chauffeur. Engineer Sebastian Thrun, who is also the co-inventor of Google Street View, led the Google driverless car.

According to USA Today, the car is equipped with about $150,000 in equipment, including a $70,000 LIDAR laser radar system that acts as the car’s eyes giving it a 3D view of what going on around it.

This also means that currently the car will be way too expensive for consumer purchase.

By the information available at the moment, the Google driverless car seems very safe.

Logging 700,000 without any incident is a big deal. That is especially noteworthy since most cars these days last roughly around 200,000 miles.

Safety could be a nice perk of the Google driverless car. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, there were 33,561 highway deaths in 2012 alone, a 1,082 increase in fatalities from 2011.

There’s also a possible negative side, too. If there are no driving citations, law enforcement budgets could take a massive hit.

According to U.S. Highway Patrol statistics, each year, around 41 million people get ticketed, bringing in more than $6.2 billion each year.

Losing that revenue because of no more tickets would be crippling.

There’s also the issue of when there is a citation, who pays the ticket? How do you hold a driving program accountable for unsafe driving?

This brings up a whole sticky legal argument of the word “driver.”

Does it mean the human passenger in the car or is it Google who created the Google Chauffeur program?

Frankly, since the Google driverless car is so expensive, I can’t see it being so widespread that it becomes the primary mode of transportation on the road.

I could possibly see it being used as a taxi in the California area that would eventually spread to other areas worldwide.

With the invention of the driverless car and the Samsung Galaxy Gear Smart Watch, which is just like the phone watch the cartoon character Inspector Gadget always used to communicate with his niece Penny, I’m anxious to see what other futuristic inventions from my childhood will come to life.