This is actually why I like to drive a manual transmission, because it keeps me awake longer on a long-haul drive. This was something originally pointed out to me by a bus driver, who noted that the bus company refused to put automatic transmissions into their buses at the time explicitly to keep the minds of the drivers engaged in the operation of the vehicle instead of other distractions. I also find that a manual transmission give me both a better feel of the road conditions, and more options to apply when operating the vehicle too. The tactile feel of the gears in the transmission through the gear shift can actually give you quite a bit of information that an experienced driver can incorporate into their driving habits, something I definitely find missing in an automatic transmission.
As for the Google cars, the scary thing is that they are currently driving on the roads right now. Supposedly they've already racked up several million miles of travel on public roads. They have moved well past the test track stage. The main issues right now are legal and social, not engineering, although I agree with you that I'm not convinced they are ready for prime time yet.