If the Google Car is any indication of the future, it appears that errands and personal productivity can take a leap. The Google Car describes a set of test vehicles employed by the technology giant that travels without a driver in the car.
This self-driving automobile project is a bold experiment from the company that, according to all accounts, is making incredible progress. Google announced in August that approximately a dozen of their cars have traveled 300,000 miles under the control of a computer without having an accident. This is excellent news for such an ambitious project, but the company says that there is still much work to be done. For one, the car needs to learn to drive in treacherous conditions, such as heavy snow and ice. The cars also need to learn to read and interpret temporary road signs, such as construction signs, which hold the potential to send its system through a loop.
The project currently utilizes Toyota Priuses that are outfitted with a variety of radar equipment, laser range finders and cameras that allow the car to navigate. Each car uses Google Maps software to navigate the routes. Two human drivers sit in the car while it drives, ready to take the wheel if a malfunction occurs.
Google says it plans to allow team members to drive their cars soon for daily commutes, The cars thus have been driven by two people or more. It shows progress that the company feels that the project has progressed to the point that a single person can operate the vehicle.
The latest addition to the self-driving vehicle project will be Lexus’ RX450h, a hybrid automobile. Some automobile accidents have occurred throughout the course of the project, all of which took place when a person was in control of the vehicle including rear-ending the Google car but no serious collisions.
When the self-driving car talks began, the company didn’t have any plans to develop the system for commercial use. Now, they hope to develop the system and market it to automobile companies. One of the biggest road blocks in place is the fact that the technology in place is essentially ahead of many driving laws. Laws in place presume that a human being is in control of the vehicle from the inside, not at the helm of a computer. Many policy makers have argued that the cars would require new laws to be created.
So what does this mean for the general market place?
In the same way that GPS units, satellite radio, navigation systems, cell phone apps and other fixtures have become implemented in a variety of vehicles, we may eventually begin to see fleets of self-driving cars, or cars with self-driving options hit the road. Google has built a strong reputation in the industry of creating quality products that better the lives of people by using vast imagination and creativity. The self-driving car is no different.
Self-driving vehicles used to be figments of the imagination, left mainly to science fiction movies and cartoons. The fact that they’ve actually created these cars, which have had success and proven safety, they may catch on and become the norm some day. In the same way that electric powered cars were once a dream, they’ve widely come to fruition in the form of hybrid and smart cars. The self-driving car may be next, and it’ll be an interesting ride to watch.