Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Google’s Driverless Cars: The Revolutionary Way to Drive?

If Google’s fleet of driverless cars works as foolproof as its iconic search engine, will it soon create a driving revolution?

By: Ringo Bones 

Set for mass trials before the end of 2014, Google’s driverless / self-drive cars could very well be representing a revolutionary way to drive if it performs as foolproof as the internet company’s iconic search engine. With its top speed limited to around 25 miles per hour – or 40 kilometers per hour – to make it as safe as possible given that it only has a start / stop button and no pedals, steering wheel and gear shift to speak of, Google’s driverless cars is said to be equipped with a camera, laser and radar based guidance system that integrates the car’s navigation with Google’s existing on-line navigation aids – as in Google Maps and Google Earth and the Global Positioning System satellite navigation. And given that the "idiosyncrasies" of most human drivers, Google's driverless cars could prove to be very good for our environment by making driving times / trips as short as possible thus lowering carbon dioxide emissions of Google's driverless cars that still burn carbon based fuels.

Though more evolutionary than revolutionary given that its proprietary autonomous self-drive and navigation system was first retrofitted to existing production cars during extensive tests and development years before, it is only recently that Google decided to design its first production autonomous driverless cars from the ground up instead of retrofitting its extensively tested autonomous driving system to off the shelf cars made by major car manufacturers like Ford or Toyota, etc. Designed as an ultra-compact two-seater to make it acceptably appealing in crowded urban environments, Google says that its 2014 era driverless cars will serve as a test-bed for more complex autonomous commercial mass transit systems like buses and passenger ferries. 

Google’s proprietary autonomous driverless and navigation system had been tested up to 100,000 miles without a single collision related mishap in its Silicon Valley headquarters for years and given their system’s exemplar safety record, Google plans to fully test their autonomous driverless system in “real world” conditions and also to test the concept of making driving much safer by removing the human error factor. The only question now is – “Where’s the stereo?” 

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