Google is on a mission:
Thrun and his Google colleagues, including co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, are convinced that smarter vehicles could help make transportation safer and more efficient: Cars would drive closer to each other, making better use of the 80 percent to 90 percent of empty space on roads, and also form speedy convoys on freeways. They would react faster than humans to avoid accidents, potentially saving thousands of lives. Making vehicles smarter will require lots of computing power and data, and that's why it makes sense for Google to back the project, Thrun said in his keynote.
Newer, longer, and more detailed video on Google's self-driving cars here.