'We want to make cars that are better than drivers.'

Burkhard Bilger, writing for The New Yorker:

Much remains to be defined. How should the cars be tested? What’s their proper speed and spacing? How much warning do drivers need before taking the wheel? Who’s responsible when things go wrong? Google wants to leave the specifics to motor-vehicle departments and insurers. (Since premiums are based on statistical risk, they should go down for driverless cars.) But the car companies argue that this leaves them too vulnerable. “Their original position was ‘We shouldn’t rush this. It’s not ready for prime time. It shouldn’t be legalized,’ ” Alex Padilla, the state senator who sponsored the California bill, told me. But their real goal, he believes, was just to buy time to catch up. “It became clear to me that the interest here was a race to the market. And everybody’s in the race.” The question is how fast should they go.

This is a long piece, but worth the effort. I've never been one to try and envision the future as some drastically different time and place, almost unrecognizable from the now. I believe that progress occurs in incremental amounts. But reading this piece, it's hard not to get swept up in what the article promises is, no pun intended, coming down the road.