April 06, 2012, 10:56 AM — On Sunday, Google announced it would race a self-driving car in NASCAR races as part of its self-driving car project, under a joint agreement with NASCAR, with which Google put out a tantalizing video that only served to demonstrate how terrifying an autonomous race car would actually be.
Unfortunately for fans of robots 'n racing, it was all an April Fool's Joke, which NASCAR gave away in its announcement of the new venture, just after mid-day April 1 to make sure no one was fooled long enough to believe NASCAR was anything but deadly serious about its mission in life.
"We have the best drivers in the world and would never consider replacing them despite any technological advancement," according to the don't-have-too-much-fun quote from NASCAR CEO Brian France.
Though Google Racing may be a joke (in this incarnation), Google's plans for self-driving vehicles that can become automated school buses, golf carts, lawn mowers and other utility vehicles is definitely not, according to GeekWire's Todd Bishop and Google's own patent application.
The patent includes the ability to detect objects and plot courses around them, communicate with cars around it to warn of upcoming lane changes or other diversions and follow predetermined routes without allowing unpredictable delays from schoolkids, traffic or obstacles in the road fubar the auto-pilot.