Does the fact that the big G is investing in this (as described in the New York Times, here) mean that this is really about to get serious? Not necessarily, since Google fools around with a lot of stuff that it just thinks is cool or interesting. Still, if it does, then this will have been a milestone – we just can’t tell at the moment.
And no, the bloke in the car isn’t a driver. He’s not even sitting in the driver seat. He’s just a very brave robotics engineer.