The Google Car Takes a Step Away From Boring

Not so boring?

This month, I stirred up the blogosphere when I wrote that my brief ride in a Google self-driving Lexus with two other reporters was “boring.”

There was a lot of breathless coverage of Google’s press event, which culminated with the company’s piling reporters three at a time into the back seat of a sensor-full autonomous vehicle for a five-mile jaunt through traffic in the Silicon Valley community where the company has its headquarters.

To me, what was striking at the time — aside from being cramped in the back seat — was the seemingly routine nature of autonomous driving, based on Internet-connected navigation technology that Google has been working on for more than four years.

Yet despite an optimistic report that Google gave to the reporters at the event, held at the Computer History Museum on May 13, the company revealed on Tuesday that more than a year ago Google engineers had decided that they would not be able to meet their safety goals in modified conventional automobiles that require humans to take back control in emergency situations.

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