Google, the Internet search engine company that has more billions than most countries, and is investing some of those billions in all manner of projects — including digitizing a large portion of all the books ever published — has just been granted a license by the state of Nevada to operate the driverless cars it has developed.
Using patented GPS/camera systems for guidance, the cars have racked up more than 200,000 accident-less miles, ranging from the traffic gridlock of the Las Vegas strip to hairpin mountain roads at Lake Tahoe, and in a YouTube video, a guy who’s 95 percent blind takes a spin around town, through a Taco Bell drive-thru, and drops off clothes at the cleaners — all sans hands or feet on any controls (www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdgQpa1pUUE).
I can only assume the Google car’s GPS unit is far more sophisticated than the over-the-counter portable device I occasionally take with me, chiefly for entertainment, since out in the boonies it seldom, if ever, actually gets me anywhere near my intended destination.
If I’m visiting a farmer, I always make it a point to get directions because, while the GPS can be reasonably accurate in a city and has most addresses in its database, it’s a different story out in the rural. Many addresses just aren’t there, particularly if they have a CR (county route/road) designation.
On a recent trip, I could see the farm shop off to my left as I approached a crossroad intersection. The GPS Map Goddess directed me to turn right. Curious to see where “she” would take me, I ended up at a dead end on the edge of a rice field.
Traveling to a field day at a farm straddling the Mississippi/Alabama state line, I had barely crossed into Alabama when she told me to turn right on a dirt road that took me into woods so dense that sunlight last hit the ground in the Paleolithic Age, then advised, “arrived at destination.” After backtracking, turns out the destination was another five miles down the way.
Just for fun, in whichever town I find myself, I plug in the local Wal-Mart as a destination. One would think Wally World’s coordinates, anywhere in the U.S., would be rock solid. After all, people give directions by Wal-Mart: “Go two miles past Wal-Mart, take a left, and…” Hardy-har. With my GPS, Wal-Mart can be anywhere from half a mile to two miles from where the Map Goddess says it is.
A while back, going to an event at the Verona, Miss., Experiment Station, I plugged the address into my GPS. I knew the way quite well, but wanted to see how it would perform in the Tupelo suburb.
After taking me one interchange north of where I would normally have turned, it directed me to the correct road, then headed me south. Well before reaching the experiment station, the Map Goddess advised, “arrived at destination on right.”
To my right was a huge cemetery.