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Google Automated Cars: First Look

Jay Williams - 13/October/2010

Google Automated Car Testing

California, United States - Car safety and efficiency are two key elements in todays society. Luckily for us, Google have been working away in secret to help prevent traffic accidents, commuting time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.

What am I talking about you ask? Well Google has been developing new technologies for cars that can drive themselves.

Automated cars, manned by trained operators have logged over 225,000km driving around the streets of California.

These automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other vehicles, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by these cars when mapping their terrain.

To help develop these new technologies Google has recruited engineers from the DARPA Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organised by the U.S. Government.

Google said that safety has been their first priority in this project. Each car is manned by a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can intervene at anytime if need be. And a trained software operator in the passenger seat monitors the software.

According to the World Health Organization, "1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents." Google believe that their technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half and are confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new “highway trains of tomorrow."

This project is very much in the experimental stage and it may be some time until we see automated cars on the market, but, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science.

Related Links:
Toyota Prius Hybrid (2009)
Toyota Camry Aussie Hybrid (2010)
Toyota Prius (2010)
Toyota Hybrids + Custom Yaris (2008)

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