CNN Money has an update on Google’s self-driving car. This time, the car attempts to handle traffic in Washington D.C. The software and radar did reasonably well, but a human driver had to take over a few times.

Please consider Toyota to reveal self-driving car research at CES

Toyota will offer a glimpse into its self-driving car research on Monday, just ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas.

The Japanese automaker recently revealed a five-second video of a Lexus-based research vehicle carrying a device similar to that used on Google’s so-called self-driving car. Unlike Google’s car, however, Toyota’s research also involves vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, the automaker said in an announcement.

Those technologies allow cars to wirelessly communicate with one another and with things like traffic lights and stop signs. For example, a car could signal vehicles around it when it stops or turns or when it encounters a slippery road surface. Similarly, a traffic light could wirelessly signal that it is turning red so approaching cars can automatically apply their brakes.

Google’s research car was based on a Toyota Prius, but Google and Toyota have not been involved in each other’s research projects, according to a source at Toyota.

Automakers generally prefer to use the term “autonomous driving” rather “self-driving” for these technologies because, even in the future, a human driver should remain at the controls of a vehicle, ready to take over as needed.

The article has an interesting video of the Google test-drive in DC that inquiring minds may wish to see.

Google is not interested in cars per se. Rather, Google is interested in making software that will go into every car.

Each year, technology gets better and better. What’s now promoted as “autonomous driving” will indeed morph into “self-driving”. I suspect that most people are unaware of the possibilities.

Eventually there will not be much need for skilled pilots or skilled truck drivers. At this moment I cannot put a timeline on “eventually”, other than “sooner than most think”.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock