IEEE has published an interesting overview about Google's self-driving cars.
The advances in this field should be of interest to our ArduRover community. The article mentions that Nevada has updated its laws and has become the first US state to allow for these vehicles to legally share the road. No details about the process to "license" the "driver" is mentioned, but I'm certain that interested parties could find out more.
The article talks about some of the challenges unique to this area of robotics. Specific behavior was coded into their 'autopilot' to communicate intent through action. The example of drivers at a four-way stop is used, where other drivers are not strictly following the rules of the road, and no driver moves, the car will first "announce" its intent to cross the intersection by moving more visibly, just like a human driver in the same situation. This is a domain-specific layer of complexity beyond that required for general robotics, related as it is to interaction with unpredictable agents sharing the robot's space.... such as humans, animals, and moving but "inanimate" objects.
This highlight a possible problem area in the design of our APM projects based primarily on DCM and PID controls. Our APMs have little "understanding" or modeling of the world, but for two-dimensionally-locked robots (well, we usually *hope* our ground and surface vehicles remain locked on the two-dimension plane... it usually means bad things when they leave it...) many which are successful have at least a basic method of modeling the world, its obstacles, and the physics involved. Beyond this, and outside of controlled environments, the robots also need to predict future conditions and the effect of its actions, and refold that information into the ongoing sense and avoid process, comparing and adjusting the whole time.
So where do we go from here, with that knowledge? And is there, perhaps, merit, to adding a "physics sensor", perhaps using a modern graphics chip created for the gaming industry? These are challenges which, perhaps, may take the "ArduSurface" projects in vastly different directions, but I suspect much of that work would subsequently be valuable to their flying counterparts.