Google is sure that they are going to keep their promise of bringing completely autonomous cars to people all over the world in the next decade. However, for the time being they are taking everything one step at a time, meaning that they are test driving the Google cars on miles and miles of road, until they can be sure that it is safe for humans to use.
So far, the fleet of Google cars have been test driven over 1 million miles, this means 1 million miles without any human input regarding the functioning and the direction of the car. However, the Google cars have only been tested on freeways and have yet to function on inner city roads, where as we all know, the unpredictable often occurs.
Those in charge with the autonomous car project, have also admitted during a shareholders meeting that, Google cars have been involved in 12 accidents so far, but none of them occurred because a Google car was at fault.
The over 1 million miles test drive is the longest that any model of car has ever made and it is all being done so as to weed out any possible problems that might come up when using the autonomous car.
Some of the major flaws of the Google cars have, are the inability to cover for areas unmapped by GPS and the fact that they cannot make different decisions when they are in front of an obstacle.
The fleet of Google cars consists of modified Toyota and Lexus cars which have been enhanced with sensors and cameras. The battery powered pod prototypes are still a thing of the future and have not been put into production just yet.
The autonomous driving method is a pipe dream that the car industry has been chasing for many years. The new model cars that are on the market, are capable of making more and more decisions all on their own. The final results now include, the ability to park in narrow spaces all on their own, as well as the ability to adjust gear according to the road ahead.
However, the project leader for the Google car project, Chris Urmson, says that this is the wrong approach, adding that you cannot teach someone to fly by teaching them how to jump higher and higher.
In order to bring the dream of autonomous cars even closer to reality, Virginia state has built 70 miles of highway on which the Google cars and other autonomous car prototypes can be tested. The “Virginia Automated Corridors”, as the highway is named, will be available to all those autonomous cars that can pass a specific test beforehand.
On the 70 miles of highway, the cars will receive various stimuli meant to test their strength and discover their weaknesses, thus making them safe to use for humans.
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