After a number of innovations based on services and products on the internet, technology giant Google is all set to leap frog into auto market, with a plan to make travelling safer, avoid accidents and reduce the carbon emission.
Demonstrators drive a car decorated to represent the Google Car used to create street view maps during a demonstration for data privacy in Berlin, September 11, 2010.
The company last week revealed its plans, that it is has been working on a secret car project to enable them to drive without a driver. The only accident so far, engineers say, was when one such 'driverless' car was slammed from the back while waiting at a red light.
The car has also logged over 140,000 miles and just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard., the company said on its official blog site.
The cars use automated 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. 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.
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The Google says that its motivation is to prevent traffic "prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions."
According to Sebastian Thurn, Professor of Computer Science and director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Stanford University, Google has been equipped a number of cars with video cameras, radar sensors and laser range-finders that allow them to sense what is happening around them and to navigate their way to a destination. The routes they have taken have been mapped out first of all by drivers in conventional cars who gather data about each journey, including road markers and traffic signs.
"We've always been optimistic about technology's ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today," Thrun said on Google's blog.
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. And that future is very exciting, Google said.
Google also stresses that their car are never unmanned, a human operator is sitting behind the steering wheels and keeps a constant eye on the state of the software steering the car with the aid of roof-mounted video, radar and laser range-finding sensors.
"Google has already mapped and photographed hundreds of thousands of miles of roads around the world for its Street View service, including road signs and other information which may be useful for its driverless cars." Financial Time said.
The benefits: Self driving cars offer a number of benefits, from no more waiting at the lights, no more road rage, any more pile-ups or traffic jams. The advantages are many. Going forward, the car could slash emissions of carbon and safety campaigners add that by removing human error from daily transport the number of road accidents and fatalities could be greatly reduced.
Challenges: Till date billions of dollars have been spent by various rich economies on driverless car research and development and probably an equal amount of private funding. Only time will tell, how well these cars will succeed.
The search giant says that although the development of the automated cars is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future.
"We've always been optimistic about technology's ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today," said Thrun. "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. And that future is very exciting."