Google are working on a project developing a car without a driver.
Google certainly likes to surprise. During the ongoing Paris motor show, Google has released some surprising information on their official blog. We are now far from Google’s origins as a search engine, with the company taking delight in adding extra strings to their bow.
Google’s aim is to provide solutions to the world’s largest problems by adapting technology. This is how they justify their work on a project developing an autonomous car. Could it be that they are looking to develop a car without a driver to take their Street View photos? Not really, with their aim being to provide a car that is safer on the road which frees up the driver and reduces CO2 emissions.
Tests with technicians onboard have already been conducted near Mountain View, taking in part of the Californian coast to Santa Monica. In total, more that 140 000 miles have already been covered in this experimental phase. For the development of this technology, Google has called on numerous engineers who participated in the DARPA* Challenge looking at autonomous vehicles without drivers.
Google explains that these autonomous cars are equipped with video cameras, radars and a laser sensor so that they can "see" the traffic and detailed maps (the picture provided). For the on site experiments, maps were collected by traditional vehicles, with Google’s data centre then being used to treat the information for use.
Of course, Google states that all of these tests were conducted in a defined and secure environment, with local authorities being warned that the cars would be passing, while a driver was always on board the automated cares to be sure that they could retake the controls if required.
According to Google, their future technology could potentially reduce the number of road accidents by half thanks to a safer driver. A reduction in greenhouse gases should also be noticed as users will be able to share the same vehicle for certain trips. Google are talking about the "road trains" of tomorrow.
The New York Times has published a brochure of the device used by a Google for their autonomous cars, along with a video:
* The Agency responsible for research projects undertaken by the US Defence department.