Google isn’t just taking pictures of your street and home when their cars drive by, the company has actually been using that time to test self-driving vehicles, tests that have yielded over 140,000 miles of real traffic driving.
The street view cars are using a combination of video cameras, radar and laser sensors all which help them navigate roads, stop at red lights and avoid other vehicles, pedestrians and animals.
According to Electronista:
The modified Toyota Priuses and lone Audi TT are significantly more advanced even than the DARPA Challenges cars.
According to software engineer Sebastian Thrun, the cars are safer than other attempts at self driving since they are programmed with their routes ahead of time and street conditions are fed into their systems to avoid issues, while an actual person sits in the car.
Only one accident has been reported when the cars have been used in real world situations and that accident occurred when another driver rear ended the Google Streets view car at a redlight.