Google want to drive you to work

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Never drive yourself to work again, and I don’t mean take the bus or the train, Google are working on a car that drives itself.

It’s partly been made possible by Google Maps, they have a ton of map data collected using manually driven vehicles) but the automated cars also use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic.

The cars aren’t quite ready for production yet though, Google never sends them out unmanned. They always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control. Plus up until now they’ve also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software. Any test begins by sending out a driver in a conventionally driven car to map the route and road conditions. By mapping features like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance.

Google say that they’ve now driven over 300,000 miles of testing and that anything up to a dozen self driving cars are on the road at any one time. They’re now ready to start sending the cars out with a solo driver and actually use them for things like commuting to work. They won’t be sitting in the back seat browsing on their Android tablets just yet though, they’ll still be alert ready to take over if need be.

However, If Google think I’ll be productive checking my emails and working on the way into the office they’re very much mistaken. I can’t wait for the cars to be ready but can I order the version with the sleeper cab please?

6 Responses

  1. Driving is not just pointing the vehicle in the right direction and letting the computer do the driving. Any experienced motorist knows that the main dangers include such as dogs and children running out into the road; people stepping off the pavement and cyclists weaving around or even cycling the wrong way down one way streets.

    That is why experienced motorists keep their eyes open and watch out for tell tale signs. Such as your overtaking a line of parked cars. If you are intelligent you keep lookingh in the back windows for the driver or passenger who might open their door right in front of you without looking.

    I find myself wondering if any computerised driving system can possibly keep on top of such hazzards. My guess is that it will not and if anything there will be an increase in the numbner of such accidents.

    Also many motorists are proud of the level of skill that they have developed over years of driving. How is anybody going to develop any skills at all when the computer does it all?

    I have always had my doubts whenever such as the old TV programme “Tomorrows World” came up with such ideas. I still have those doubts. I am not convinced.

  2. I will certainly agree than far too many humans have the attention span of a hamster. Also of course far too many drive and talk on their mobiles or text at the same time. However none of those categories of driverrs can be included amongst good or experienced motorists.

    For the experienced motorist they do have a good quality attention span. They are able to drive 200 miles and at the end of it to still be as attentive as they were at the start. Also they pride themselves on their driving skills(please note that this is totally differant to being able to drive at high speed no matter what the conditions).

    In this regard I used to work for one employer. Another employee used to claim that it took him exactly the same time to get to work every morning no matter what the conditions. I saw him one morning. It was the middle of winter. Visability was only a foot or so beyond the end of the bonnet and yet he was still in the outside lane of the dual carriageway and driving at 70 m.p.h.

    That is not good driving that is a very serious accident waiting to happen and unfortunately when such an accident happens it is likely to be the innocent who get involved who are likely to be killed and injured and no computer system is going to protect you from the maniac speeding through the fog or driving on black ice or through snow.

    My guess is that those who drive such vehicles will not be watching out for problems and be able to take over. What they are likely to be doing is talking on their mobiles or texting; perhaps finishing off some work; watching the TV; or reading a Newspaper. They will be totally relying on the computer and then there will be an accident.

    They will claim that they are not to blame but traffic laws make it very clear that the driver or the person in charge of the motor vehicle is totally responsible for whatever happens even if they are in the back of the car with their feet up reading a newspaper leaving the computer to do the driving.


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