If you’ve ever started to doze off at the wheel during a long road trip you’ve probably said to yourself “I wish there was a car that would drive itself” … turns out, thanks to the engineers at Google there is.
Google first announced the self driving car project in 2010 and four years later Google has a fleet of test vehicles that yes …. Drive Themselves!
For a couple of years now car manufactures have built in “Park Assist” a robotic operated system that steers and parallel parks your car. While Park Assist is great technology consumers have to trust the technology and let go of the wheel for it to work! The same is true with robotic, self driving cars. Three things need to happen before self driving cars become mainstream.
- Cost: Google’s robotic cars are not cheap. Each car is fitted with a $150,000 roof top LINDAR laser radar system. The rangefinder laser creates a 360 degree 3D map around the car at all times and then combines that information with high resolution maps of the world and additional data to enable it to drive itself.
- Laws: Laws will have to be changed before Self Driving Vehicles can be operated on public roads. The state of Nevada changed it’s laws to allow Google’s robotic test vehicles to share the roadway with other drivers. California has also allowed Google to test it’s vehicles there.
- Public Perception: Will the general pubilic trust cars that drive themselves? Robotic cars never get tired, fall alseep or experience road rage. Robotic cars never speed and always make a full stop at stop sign.
Google’s robotic cars have logged over 700,000 accident free miles to date and have been involved in two incidents during their testing. In 2011 a “human-controlled” Google robotic car was involved in a crash while the car was being driven manually at the time. A second Google robotic car was rear ended while stopped at a traffic light.
Are you ready to share the road with driver-less, self-driving cars? Even if the price of technology were to drop, I think the public trust and acceptance of self driving cars has a way to go. I still get distracted whenever I see an right hand drive imported vehicle on the road, I can only image the reaction if there were no driver at the wheel or what about a car with no steering wheel at all!
Google has no plans at this time to commercially develop robotic cars but might license the technology to car manufactures in the future.
Source: Reuters, Wiki