Charlie Warzel, the deputy editor of Buzzfeed’s tech section, FWD, posted a very interesting picture on Twitter this morning — accompanied by a grave warning.
THIS is what google’s self driving car can see. So basically this thing is going to destroy us all. twitter.com/cwarzel/status…
— Charlie Warzel (@cwarzel) April 30, 2013
To date, we know very little about how the self-driving cars Google is reportedly developing will work (probably because Google is secretive as hell). Warzel didn’t identify the source of the picture, but he’s in a position to get his hands on this kind of information.
It’s difficult to say whether this image will do anything to quell the fears of the carnage that could be created by a self-driving car going off the rails (or gaining sentience and deciding to kill all humans). It appears to show quite conclusively that the cars will be doing much more than taking video of what’s directly in front of and behind them and deciding when to stop and start based only on that information. This image seems to reveal that the car is aware of not only the red light ahead and its current speed and orientation, but also the locations of all the bus stops, trees and perhaps even people around it within a large radius. It’s like a Terminator on wheels.
We’re almost certainly still years away from self-driving cars hitting the market — just try to imagine how rigorous the testing will be for them to be approved for sale. Images like this could generate a level of excitement among the public (and financial investment) that will speed up the process, however. That assumes, of course, that we’ll all able to get over our fears that these things will rise up and destroy us all.