Some great videos surfaced last week showing Google's robotic cars driving like autonomous maniacs on a closed course; take a look.
(Google autonomous car video - interior view)
This might seem dangerous, but arguably, this demo is likely safer than a human driving around the parking area at normal speeds, if we assume that the car's sensors are all switched on and it's not just playing back a preset path. The fact is that a car equipped with radar and LIDAR and such can take in much more information, process it much more quickly and reliably, make a correct decision about a complex situation, and then implement that decision far better than a human can.
(Google autonomous car video - exterior view)
When I saw these videos, particularly the exterior view, I thought immediately of the AutoM8s from Daniel Suarez's 2009 novel Daemon. In the story, a car run by a computer is used like a big watchdog to guard an estate, performing the most extreme driving maneuvers with ease.
The first warning they received was the guttural sound of a powerful engine, then screeching tires. Sebeck and the other officers turned to face a full-sized black Hummer roaring out of the garage. It bore down on the nearest of them and crushed a deputy and an FBI agent...
Sebeck stood in a paralysis of incomprehension. He could clearly see that no one was driving the Hummer. It sported six tall whip antennas - still wagging from the impact of the collision - and had odd-looking sensors bolted to its hood, roof and fenders...