The Google Self Driving Car Project has clocked-up 300,000 miles without crashing.
The Google Self Driving Car Project has clocked-up 300,000 miles without crashing. This excludes the moment a human temporarily took control and hit another vehicle – which brings us nicely to one of the project's objectives... saving lives. Google's Sebastian Thrun previously wrote that "according to the World Health Organization more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents.” Many of these were caused by human error. He added: “We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half." Google systems have so far been tested on fairly hospitable roads, but will now be enhanced to handle conditions such as snow and temporary construction signs.The Google Self Driving Car Project incorporates vehicles such as the Lexus RX450h and Toyota Prius. These, of course, are equipped with numerous systems that enable them to self drive. Highlights include the Lidar, which is a rotating roof mounted sensor that scans more than two-hundred feet in every direction. Its purpose is to create a three-dimensional map. The Position Estimator in the left rear wheel plots the car's location on this map, and measures movement. This complements the video camera which is mounted close to the rear-view mirror. This detects traffic lights and moving hazards such as pedestrians and cyclists. Finally, front/rear sensors determine the positions of distant objects such as lorries. It is clear that self driving cars will be a commercial reality in the future. After all, even everyday vehicles from today change gear, maintain speed, brake, and steer into parking bays automatically. Fully automating the remaining systems might – and only might - be a big step forwards in road safety. Not convinced? Try pressing that “manual override” button. Driverless cars will soon be a reality