Imagine a future where you can settle back with a nice mug of coffee during your commute while your car navigates on its own.
According to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, such a future is practically here.
The Associated Press reports that during Schmidt's keynote on Tuesday at the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona, Spain, the former CEO said, "People who predict that holograms and self-driving cars will become reality soon are absolutely right."
“Driverless cars are a lot closer than you think," he went on to say, per AllThingsD's live blog of the talk.
Some U.S. states are already preparing for the presence of these futuristic vehicles. Nevada recently became the first to approve requirement regulations for autonomous cars.
In addition, a number of other organisations, including the Free University of Berlin (Germany), Volvo, BMW and Google itself, are at the forefront of the innovations behind so-called self-driving cars.
The company first revealed that it had developed autonomous vehicles in an October 2009 blog post, writing, "Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard."
The company may also be looking to hire specialized employees to continue work on this project. Business Insider pointed out on Monday that in the last few weeks, the company posted several open positions on its local "Jobs" listing page: Automotive System Test Engineer, System Test Engineer for Special Projects and Industrial Designer for Special Projects, among others. While none of the listings' descriptions explicitly mention driverless cars, they all stress the need for automotive engineering skills.
And these aren't the only cool jobs opening up at Google. On Monday, Wired reported that the company was looking for augmented-reality experts to work on "Terminator"-style augmented reality glasses, which the company is rumored working on. Wired points out that Google doesn't state that these positions are related to the glasses, but that the ads list "augmented reality mapping, geo-location and real time interaction" as top priorities.
Familiarity with augmented-reality mapping is only the first hurdle applicants for these positions will need to clear. Google has a notoriously tough hiring process in which, according to a study by job and career review site Glassdoor.com, applicants are asked questions like, "How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30pm on a Friday?" and "A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?" (Visit The Wall Street Journal, for more brain-buster Google interview questions and answers.)
Check out some of Google's other most experimental projects (below).