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Driverless Cars from Google

Yes you heard that right, Driver less cars are here, and guess who is working on them ? Its all of our beloved Google. Yes, Google has retro fitted a Toyota Prius to be the latest in the field of Car technologies. Autonomous Driving cars, used as part of their Street View program are going to ensure that the future that was dreamt for us, with automatic cars that drive themselves might just be a reality. Remember iRobot ?? Of course we are not quite there yet, but its a start. So before you asking questions in your head of why and How, I think you should read further.

First of all, what does this car look like ?? yes I have got a picture to picture the car as we look further into why and how are they making it possible.

The Why ?  – My Analogy

If there would be one company that stands by its motto of doing no evil, arguably I will say Google. I know there are many out there who would start talking about privacy concerns and the rest, but with Facebook around privacy is no where close to be the same as it was. So leaving the online role aside Google’s continued attempt at working out solutions in new and emerging markets is something of an astonishment. I am sure that there is no other organization around who tries to give back so much. If we do look, you will know people hate Google for not just privacy :) Here is a funny video that would throw some light :)

Getting back to the topic, with a view of giving back and in order to optimize fuel usage and space on the streets of the world, Google’s venture into autonomous cars, is a welcome breadth of fresh air, in the sales driven cars market.

As of 2010, Google has tested several vehicles equipped with the system, driving 1,000 miles (1,600 km) without any human intervention, in addition to 140,000 miles (230,000 km) with occasional human intervention, the only accident occurring when one of the cars was rear-ended while stopped at a red light. Google anticipates that the increased accuracy of its automated driving system could help reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths, while using energy and space on roadways more efficiently.

The How ?

The modified cars’ most noticeable feature is a rotating sensor on the roof that scans 360 degrees for more than 200 feet in diameter, creating a 3D map of the car’s location. A sensor on the left rear wheel measures the car’s movements in detail and helps locate it on the map. A video camera on the windshield near the rearview mirror finds pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic lights and obstacles in the rod and sends that data to the car’s onboard computer. Radar sensors at front and back help locate more distant objects. A GPS receiver, a laser range finder and an inertial motion sensor complete the package.

There are a few videos that have started creeping up on youtube and the likes of the Google Automated Cars driving, like these below.

What’s the Google angle? Not surprisingly, the cars relate back to Google data centers to process the information the cars gather and need to use. Google says its goal, though, is “to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”

Google also says it has a “trained safety driver” behind the wheel at all times and a “trained software operator” in the passenger seat — and that the local police have been “briefed…on our work.” Read the information from the Horses mouth, here on the Google Blog.

Unlike a lot of people, I like driving. I’m sure there are others out there too who like driving, but a majority of people seem too busy to be bothered to enjoy the experience. Then again, I don’t have a hectic daily commute and I don’t deal with traffic very often. I worry that one day, driving a car yourself might actually be outlawed and driverless cars will be law, rather than an option. Getting these cars off the ground also will pose a problem, many people will have their own misgivings about trusting a car to deliver them safely to their destination, and manual override systems will be a must. There is also the cost; while Google hasn’t said what all this technology costs, I know it wasn’t cheap. It would probably be cheaper to just hire a chauffeur instead.

All that aside… the future is now, people. Driverless cars are possible within our lifetime, and we may one day find ourselves sitting shotgun as the computer takes us to work.

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