Google Hits the Road in Self-Driving Cars
Google is currently road-testing a technology for self-driving cars that use artificial-intelligence software to mimic the actions a real driver would make in traffic.
Using video cameras, radar sensors, maps, and a laser range finder, Google’s goal is to equip the driverless cars with the ability to sense traffic patterns to decrease energy consumption and accidents . The cars, explained in an Oct. 10 Google blog, are always manned with a driver who, if need be, could operate the vehicle "as easily as one disengages cruise control."
One of Google’s automated cars recently completed a road trip from Google’s Mountain View, Calif. headquarters to its Santa Monica office, including a cruise down Hollywood Boulevard. The cars have also navigated the steep curves of San Francisco’s Lombard St., driven across the Golden Gate Bridge, along the windy Pacific Coast Highway, and around Lake Tahoe. In total, the self-driving cars have logged more than 140,000 miles. There are seven cars in operations, six Toyota Priuses and an Audi TT.
Owing to the cars’ ability to sense and respond to changing traffic patterns without human intervention or distraction , the self-driving vehicles, Google believes, have the potential to reduce yearly automobile deaths by half. The company also hopes its high tech automatic cars will shift conceptions about car sharing, in the process significantly reducing energy consumption and creating "highway trains of tomorrow."
"While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science," reads the blog post. "And that future is very exciting."