Google is experimenting its software-driven self-driving car technology. In what is being termed by the company as first attempt in robotics research, the effort majorly tests its capabilities upon 6 Toyota Priuses and 1 Audi TT. Before any of these automated cars start their journey, Google arranges mapping of the predetermined routes and their conditions, by a driver.
Seven robot-cars, manned by engineers and drivers with spotless records, drove more than 140,000 miles with very little human control, New York Times reports. The cars drove all over California, including heavily trafficked Hollywood Boulevard and San Francisco’s Lombard Street, known for its tight zig-zag turns, according to the Google blog. Only one accident happened when a Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light, engineers told New York Times.
This Google robo car is some futuristic concept that the public might not be ready to accept out of fear that a malfunction might happen causing the car to crash. I would feel safer knowing that I or someone else who is alert is behind the wheel just in case they have to avoid a car swerving into traffic. As per the company’s blog post, “Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to ‘see’ other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead,”
Praising the engineers from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Challenges who have worked for this autonomous- vehicle development project, the blog post further explains, “This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.” The high tech autos are specially designed Toyota Priuses. They look like regular cars, except for a cylinder-shaped sensor, or the vehicle’s “eye,” attached to the roof, according to the Daily Mail. Built-in video cameras, radars, sensors and Google’s map database navigate the cars, the Google blog said.
Safeguarding the interest of as many 1.2 million people who lost their lives in road accidents (as per WHO), Google Distinguished Engineer Sebastian Thrun says, “We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half,”