Google is working on a technology that, if perfected, would prevent about 35,000 deaths per year in the United States and 1.2 million deaths per year worldwide.
To put that number in context: About 23,000 American men and women will die of leukemia in 2012, according to the National Cancer Institute.
But while the technology Google is working on isn’t the cure for cancer, it’s pretty impressive.
What is it? Self-driving cars.
According to the U.S. census, 33,808 people died in car crashes in the U.S. in 2009 — 37,423 in 2008. According to the World Health Organization, 1.2 million people die in car crashes around the world each year.
A source familiar with Google’s self-driving car program tells us that one of its primary goals is to eliminate the ~99 percent of those deaths that are caused by “human error.”
That’s obviously a lofty goal. It’s certainly admirable … but is it achievable? There are some data points to consider before answering that question.
Google’s cars are much better drivers than you. Self-driving cars can “see” in 360 degrees. They do not get tired, drunk, old, or enraged. They do not have teenage hormones. They know exactly how to stay out of other drivers’ blind spots. They can anticipate and adjust due to variables impercitible to humans.