The 5 Most Intriguing Patent Applications of 2011

#1 Google Patent #8,078,349: Transitioning a Mixed-Mode Vehicle to Autonomous Mode

We are seeing quite a number of patents that could hint at autonomous vehicles, but there was one element of this patent that struck me and gives this invention substantial credibility. Besides the fact that Google has autonomous vehicles on California roads already, its inventors are particularly noteworthy. Among the listed inventors are Christopher Urmson and Nathaniel Fairfield, both who joined Google from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Urmson is especially interesting because he was the technical leader of the Tartan racing team, which won the 2007 DARPA Urban Challenge for the university.