- Google has fleet of Lexus SUVs retrofitted with lasers, radar and cameras
- The fleet has done 700,000 accident-free miles (1.1m km) on motorways
- Google has been focusing on improving city driving for the past year
- So far, tech giant has focused street driving in Mountain View, California
- It predicts that the public could get hold of the technology within 3 years
07:06 EST, 28 April 2014
10:31 EST, 29 April 2014
Google claims it has turned a corner in its efforts to
create the ultimate self-driving car.
In a blog post, the company said its self-driving
cars have now mastered motorway driving.
But city driving – with its obstacle course of stray walkers,
bicyclists and blind corners – has been a far greater challenge for the cars’
Scroll down for video…
Google claims its self-driving cars have now mastered motorway driving. But it said city driving has been a far greater challenge for the cars’ computers and it will now be focusing on improving technology in this area. Pictured is Google co-founder Sergey Brin after riding in a driverless car with officials
Chris Urmson, the project’s leader, said test cars now can
handle thousands of urban situations that would have stumped them a year ago.
â€˜We’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an
achievable goal – a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,â€™ he
Urmson’s post was the company’s first official update
since 2012 on progress toward a driverless car, which has been underway within
the company’s secretive Google X lab.
The company has said its goal is to get the technology to
the public by 2017.
Chris Urmson, the project’s leader, said test cars now can handle thousands of urban situations. ‘We’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal – a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,’ he wrote. Pictured is the company’s onboard camera navigating city streets in California
THE DRIVERLESS CONCEPT CAR THAT TURNS INTO A LOUNGE
Google isn’t the only one working on driverless car technology.Â ZÃ¼rich-based Rinspeed has decided to pimp Teslaâ€™s ride in its latest concept car for truly autonomous driving.
Designed to be a car, office, living room and urban space all in one package, the XchangE electric vehicle aims to make driving completely stress-free.
â€˜Travelling in a driverless car will no longer require me to stare at the road, but will let me spend my time in a more meaningful way,â€™ said Rinspeed founder Frank Rinderknecht.
The all-electric touring sedan features seats that can tilt, swivel and slide into more than twenty different seating arrangements. According to the company, â€˜passengers will be able to assume virtually any seating or resting position when travelling in the car.â€™
To begin with, human drivers would be expected to take
control if the computer fails. The promise is that, eventually, there would be
no need for a driver.
Passengers could read, daydream, sleep – or work – while the
Google maintains that computers will one day drive far more
safely than humans, and part of the company’s pitch is that robotic cars can reduce
The basics are now in place. The task for Google now is perfecting the
technology strapped onto its fleet of about two dozen Lexus RX450H SUVs.
Sensors including radar and lasers create 3D maps of a
self-driving car’s surroundings in real-time, while Google’s software sorts
objects into four categories.
These include moving vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and
static objects such as signs, curbs and parked cars.
Initially, the carâ€™s capabilities were fairly crude. A group
of pedestrians on a street corner registered as a single person.
Now, the technology can distinguish individuals, according
to Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne.
To deal with cyclists, engineers initially programmed the
software to look for hand gestures that indicate an upcoming turn.
The company has said its goal is to get the technology to the public by 2017. To begin with, human drivers would be expected to take control if the computer fails. The promise is that, eventually, there would be no need for a driver. Passengers could read, daydream, sleep – or work – while the car drives
Then they realised that most cyclists don’t use standard
gestures – and still others weave down a road the wrong way.
Engineers have taught the software to predict the behaviour
of cyclists based on thousands of encounters during the approximately 10,000
miles (16,000 km) the cars have driven autonomously on city streets, Hohne
The software projects a cyclist’s likely movements and plots
the car’s path accordingly – then reacts if something unexpected happens.
â€˜A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of
freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to
different rules of the road in a small area,â€™ Urmson wrote.
Before recent breakthroughs, Google had considered mapping
all the world’s stop signs.
Now the technology can read stop signs, including those held
in the hands of school crossing guards, Hohne added.
This is the view the car sees when its navigating an intersection. Initially, the car’s capabilities were fairly crude. A group of pedestrians on a street corner registered as a single person, for example. Now, the technology can distinguish individuals
A user, who is legally blind, sat behind the wheel during a recent test drive and showed off to the passengers that no hands were needed To date, Google’s cars have gone about 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) in self-driving mode
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT GOOGLEâ€™S SELF-DRIVING CARS
Mean streets: Google cars have driven about 700,000 accident-free miles (1.1 million km)Â on motorways in ‘autonomous mode’. Google has been focusing on city driving for the past year.
To-do list: Google’s Lexus RX450H SUVs are retrofitted with lasers, radar and cameras rapidly learned how to handle thousands of urban driving situations.Â Improvements are needed in merging and lane changes, turning right on red and handling bad weather.
Local tests: So far, the tech giant has focused on street driving in Mountain View, California. The state, along with, Nevada, Florida, MichiganÂ and Washington, D.C., have formally opened public streets to testing of self-driving cars.
The future is (almost) here: In 2012, Google co-founder Sergey Brin predicted that the public would be able to get hold of the technology within five years. This prediction has not been revised.
Google, the carmaker: While Google has enough money to invest in making cars, that likelihood is remote.Â Industry experts believe more likely options include collaborating with major car makers or giving away the software, as Google did with its Android operating system.
While the car knows when to stop, when to start again is
still a challenge because the cars are programmed to drive defensively.
At a four-way stop, Google’s cars have been known to wait in
place as people driving in other directions edge out into the intersection.
The cars still need work on other predictably common tasks.
Among them, understanding the gestures that drivers give one another to signal
it’s fine to merge or change lanes, turning right on red and driving in rain or
â€˜You can count on one hand the number of years until people,
ordinary people, can experience this,’ company co-founder Sergey Brin said in 2012.
He made the remarks
at a ceremony where California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation legalising
the cars on public roads in the state.
To date, Google’s cars have gone about 700,000 miles (1.1
million km) in self-driving mode, the vast majority on motoways, the company
California’s Department of Motor Vehicles is in the process
of writing regulations to implement that law. Nevada, Florida, Michigan and
Washington, D.C., also have written driverless car laws.
Google has not said how it plans to market the technology.
Options include collaborating with major carmakers or giving away the software,
as the company did with its Android operating system.
While Google has the balance sheet to invest in making cars,
that likelihood is remote.
Traditional automakers also are developing driverless cars.
Renault-Nissan chief exectuve Carlos Ghosn said he hopes to deliver a model to
the public by 2020.
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The comments below have not been moderated.
Derby, United Kingdom,
6 hours ago
Wait when then sensors and camera fails or goes faulty. I believe humans instict are more acurate than a computer software.
Great Britain, United Kingdom,
10 hours ago
Get a taxi instead.
New York, United States,
15 hours ago
Wow. How lazy can humans become…?
los angeles, United States,
1 day ago
Driverless cars….and they would still be safer than illegals driving here – even with the new Cali drivers license, they still drive like they do south of the border, hit and run.
Just call me queen.,
Over the hill and far away, Monaco,
1 day ago
It sounds great to me . No texting drivers, no drunk drivers, no distracted drivers while my child is crossing etc.
1 day ago
Why don’t the cars look like normal cars and then see what happens in rush hour traffic. All the drivers slow down, even yield to those spacey looking driver less cars…lets have them look just like a regular car and lets test them on pothole filled streets like the N.E. has …maybe by 2050 they be ready for prime time
auckland, New Zealand,
1 day ago
My question would be. If a hands off Google car involves in an accident – whose fault is it ? Let’s say if a Google car hit a pedestrian, can the injured pedestrian sue Google or the owner of the car? Because, technically it is Google driving the car at the time of the accident.
1 day ago
Somewhere, United States,
1 day ago
Can’t wait until someone figures out how to hack a driverless car and sends the test rider for one wild ride. ———————– I bet that would be a wake up call.
1 day ago
This is the way to control movement by the elites. If every car, every lorry, every cab and buses were computer run then whoever controls the computer network controls the vehicle.
Eventually you will not be allowed your own car but order one online which will come to your door, pick you up and take you to your destination etc. You’ll just get billed for it.
The loss in jobs alone will be collosal…all the professional drivers gone. RTC’s down… less doctors, paramedics and nurses (the police will be increased of course to quell the continuing riots…) and firefighters. No more traffic wardens as the vehicle will only park where its legal, no more car park attendents so they’ll be impossible to steal – and because they can turned off electronically from the Network not worth stealing in any case…
1 day ago
1 day ago
Seven Lakes, United States,
1 day ago
This is the major reason that I no longer use Google.
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Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2614891/Google-Driverless-cars-mastering-city-streets.html