Google's Latest: Cars That Can Drive Themselves

Google (GOOG) has developed technology that enables cars to drive themselves, according to the search giant's latest blog post.

Automated vehicles would allow drivers to travel more safely, free up drivers' time and reduce carbon emissions by making traveling more efficient, the company claims. Its automated vehicles -- which it says were manned by trained operators and software engineers making sure the technology worked correctly -- have already driven more than 140,000 miles.

The cars are equipped with video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to avoid traffic, as well as detailed maps -- collected using regular vehicles with drivers -- to navigate more permanent hazards. And because the cars would drive the more efficient routes sussed out by its software, Google claims they would end up reducing carbon emissions over time. The company also says that the technology could cut down on the 1.2 million traffic deaths that occur worldwide.

If Google's claims are right, the company could revolutionize the way that cars operate just as much as it changed the search engine process a decade ago. But it still has a long way to go -- and a whole lot more to prove -- before the public will be ready to turn over the wheel.