Taking a ride with Google’s self-driving car
It’s no secret that Google are developing cars that drive themselves, trying to break one of those science fiction technologies that we saw in movies such as Fifth Element, Demolition Man, and I Robot – and they are getting quite close too!
These cars have been tested on roads since last year October and safety is amongst one of the main aims of this project for Google. The car only has had one road accident involving another car crashing into the back of the “Google car” while it was stood at a red light – so actually it wasn’t the computer’s fault!
The onboard computer system has a 360 degree spatial awareness and reaction times much faster than a humans, hence it’s argued that (under the right circumstances) driving in a computer controlled car is actually safer than with a human driver.
Another advantage self-driving cars may bring are better fuel management, instead of doing mental arithmetic depending on your speed, time travelled and car’s fuel consumption, the computer can just do it for you and adjust accordingly to be as eco-friendly as possible throughout the journey. Something that would normally give our GCSE Math brains a severe workout.
Google also pointed out that while in a self-driving car, you of course won’t need to concentrate on driving the car, you can spend that time during the journey being more productive. Browsing or working on a wireless internet connection, watching tv, etc. Of course if Google powers the future self-driven car it may well be powered by other Google products! But the concept is exciting nonetheless.
Some limitation at the moment are the weather and the varying conditions it brings to roads, and also it is currently unable to recognise red lights and speed limit signs. Although I’m sure these won’t take long for Google to iron out.
Google maintain this is a pet project for them, and that they are definetly not making any money off this project. They predict this technology to be on the market within 8 years or so, although if they are successful and can pass what I’ll guess are going to be some extreme safety requirements, they could add a significant amount of money to their already significant money pot.
Have a look at the car in action: