Google goes for awesome driverless car concept

Chris Urmson google driverless car head

After making billions on online advertising Google execs are now putting some money into companies of their dreams. The latest – the Google driverless car concept.

“Look Ma, no hands!”

This time-worn expression involving steering a car without using one’s hands has been around a while. More recently, automotive companies like Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors are teaming up with technology innovators like Israel based Mobileye  to develop a totally different concept of literally  “hands free” car driving.

Tesla, which manufactures high-priced electric sports cars and salons is  planning to use Israel’s Better Place electric car infrastructure network to test models fitted with Mobileye’s  driverless car navigation system.

Apparently, the race is now on as to who will be able to develop the best driverless car technology that will enable people to  ride in vehicles that literally navigate and drive themselves on city streets and highways. Tesla and Mobileye are not the only companies working on the driverless car concept.

Google, the software media giant that is now a household name in the internet world, has  now jumped into to the fray and is outfitting Toyota Lexus SUV cars with its own driverless steering version that is now being test driven on  streets and roads in California and around the states. 

Google’s  driverless concept could be closer to true driverless traveling, than Mobileye’s.

Program director Chris Urmson (see photo)  says that “thanks to software upgrades, the self-driving car can now detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously—pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn.”

Taking this in mind, Google says cars using their software will one day be able to easily navigate streets New York City as driverless technologies improve.

Google driverless car concept

Google’s driverless concept involves the incorporation of various software and video cameras as seen in the above illustration. The “Google car” is noted in red. Purple lines and boxes represent other cars on street, while red ones represent cyclists. Pedestrians are shown as yellow.  Street signs and signals look like they normally would.

According to an article in the UK Daily Mail a spinning “silver bucket” on top of a self-driving car contains 64 lasers that collect three-dimensional information in all directions, while a radar sensor bounces waves off every  object within about 500 feet.

There’s also a camera that looks through the windshield and reads everything from traffic signals to street signs.  Specially programed software “watches” what all of these different objects are doing at any given moment. It reacts to their movements and adjusts the driving plan accordingly.  A GPS device assists in planning the route the car will take.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s much more complicated than you might think, as video cameras have to identify the various hazards, including pedestrians crossing the street, and relays the data back to the software program.

Dmitri Dolgov from Google’s self-driving car team was quoted as  saying: “The car is capable of a lot of things, but unless it’s absolutely sure that it can handle the situation well, it will err on the conservative side.”

Erring, could obviously result in a serious and possibly fatal accident. If all goes well, Google hopes to have the driverless car program “on the road” by 2017.

A driverless car concept is just one of many things currently being innovated that involves the use of “robotics” or artificial  intelligence to perform tasks that human beings would normally do.

Google’s driverless team has up to now logged more than 700,000 accident-free miles (1.1 million km)  in various test locations in the USA. Not bad for “look Ma, no hands!”

Read more on the driverless car driving concept:

“Driverless” Tesla electric car will test run on Israel’s Better Place grid

Driverless car partnership emerges between Tesla and Israel’s Mobileye

Photo illustration of Google driverless car concept

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