Google Releases Self-Driving Car Prototpye
It’s 2014… where is my robot maid, flying car and jetpack?
By most accounts, especially those of science fiction writers, the 2010’s should be a lot more futuristic than they actually are. Sci-Fi writer Arthur C. Clark predicted a manned mission to mars by 1994. Another writer, Robert Heinlein predicted 1000 mile per hour travel by the year 2000. We haven’t quite lived up to these lofty expectations.
Yes, we do have some pretty amazing technology today. We all carry tiny supercomputers with us wherever we go, we can instantly transmit and receive information from all over the world, and we’ve experience countless medical advances over the years.
But that stuff just doesn’t have the same coolness factor as hover-boards or ray guns.
Luckily, one pretty cool piece of futuristic technology is just over the horizon; the self-driving car.
On May 28th Google announced a prototype self driving car complete with a lack of steering wheel, brakes or gas pedal.
The software company’s announcement wasn’t unprecedented. They had been experimenting with the idea of self-driving vehicles for years. Their previous attempts however, involved regular vehicles being converted into self-drivers. Their new prototype would be the first to be built specifically for the purpose of driving itself.
The two-seat car has a button for start and go, room for two passengers and a bubbly, friendly, appearance. It actually looks like something someone from the 50s would imagine a future car to look like.
Features of Google’s Self-Driving Car
- No steering wheel
- No gas pedal or breaks
- 2 seats and a place for passengers belongings
- Lidar 64 beam range finder
- $150,000 worth of equipment.
- As of April 2014 Google’s vehicles have logged 700,000 unmanned miles
Why should we be excited?
The implications of self-driving vehicles are pretty amazing.
The biggest benefit will be the reduction of incidents of injury and death due to human error while on the road. In a statement sent out by Google in 2010 they say that they believe their technology should be able to cut the average of `1.2 million lives lost in motor vehicle accidents per year by half.
Business people will also be able to experience a big productivity boosts by being able to use their commute time for things other than driving.
Obviously it’ll take a pretty big cultural shift for consumers to feel comfortable with a vehicle driving itself, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Also legislation will have to be updated for these types of vehicles, currently only 4 states allow driverless vehicle testing.
Google plans to build about 100 of these vehicles and start testing them in California later this summer.
Though like most of our predictions, self-driving cars probably will be on the road later rather than sooner, but it’s good to see some real progress!
Photo via Google’s blog: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2014/05/just-press-go-designing-self-driving.html