Judging by how badly TFA was written.
If a new stop light appeared overnight, for example, the car wouldn't know to obey it.
Got it. So the cars cannot handle changes in traffic markers.
Google's cars can detect and respond to stop signs that aren't on its map, a feature that was introduced to deal with temporary signs used at construction sites.
So they cannot deal with new stop LIGHTS but they can deal with new stop SIGNS. WTF?
But in a complex situation like at an unmapped four-way stop the car might fall back to slow, extra cautious driving to avoid making a mistake.
And it would be "unmapped" for the first attempt. Right? Because the cars should be sending back data on road conditions and such to HQ. Right?
Maps have so far been prepared for only a few thousand miles of roadway, but achieving Google's vision will require maintaining a constantly updating map of the nation's millions of miles of roads and driveways.
And the car needs the map to drive, right?
Google's cars have safely driven more than 700,000 miles.
So they just drove over the same "few thousand miles of roadway" again and again and again and again? Until they got to 700,000 miles?
The car's sensors can't tell if a road obstacle is a rock or a crumpled piece of paper, so the car will try to drive around either.
As it should. Because you don't know if that piece of paper is covering a rock or a pothole or whatever.
For example, John Leonard, an MIT expert on autonomous driving, says he wonders about scenarios that may be beyond the capabilities of current sensors, such as making a left turn into a high-speed stream of oncoming traffic.
Isn't that one of the easier problems? The car waits until it detects a gap of X size where X is dependent upon the speed of oncoming vehicles and the distance it needs to cross PLUS a pre-set "safety margin".