Vic Gundotra, Google’s social head and senior vice president of engineering, isn’t the one to avoid media appearances and is pretty outspoken when it comes to the Android operating system, the number of activations, the Google vs. Apple rivalry and a number of other trend-setting industry topics. He is also frank and open about his personal life, publishing pictures of his son on his public Google+ profile, for example. It was then a bit of a revelation when 9to5Google discovered Gundotra in a video by car maker Mercedes, which is part of their series about safety innovations in the S63 AMG.

“If anyone can appreciate the protective potential of the right algorithm, he can”, says a YouTube page. In the video, Gundotra reflects  on his first hand experience that almost cost him his life. “I had a pretty good 2011”, he begins, but “it might have been different if the car had acted differently that day.” He explains:

I turned just for a brief moment and because I was distracted I didn’t notice what was going on. The lane that I was travelling had come to a complete stop due to traffic. I never saw the traffic stop. I remember briefly hearing multiple beeps. I was travelling over 45 miles per hour, I grabbed the steering wheel and I saw the car in front of me as rushing toward, it was at the dead stop. It was clearly too late for me to do anything. I heard the beep-beep-beep as my Mercedes collision system automatically kicked in. And the next thing I know, my Mercedes was stopped, without hitting the car in front of me. I was just shaking, the Mercedes stopped itself. The thought of what I could have done to someone else because I momentarily wasn’t paying attention – wow, that’s scary feeling.

Notice how he is also subtly making the case for Google’s autonomous cars.

I’ve been doing software development my whole life and I have a great deal of innovation, particularly in the real of software. Watching what Mercedes has done and bringing together the sensors in the car with software that has the ability to save your life – you know, that really is the fulfillment of software, that really is the magic of software.


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