Driving around in a car with no one at the wheel in a deserted car park may not seem like everyone’s cup of tea, but some delegates at the TED 2011 conference this week got the chance to try out Google’s super-secret self-drive car.
Revealed back in October, Google's attempt “to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use” was given a very public outing this week when members of the pubic were allowed to sit inside the car as it raced around a closed course in a car park with only an on-board computer in charge - OK there was a safety driver there too but that doesn't sound as exciting. As you can see in the video, the car is driving pretty aggressively but this is due to the course being closed and the route pre-set by Google.
The search giant says that in the real world, users would simply input a destination as with a sat-nav, a route would be programmed and the car would head off on its course. Google even said that the car has driven routes from San Francisco to Los Angeles, all through automation. Google’s Sebastian Thurn, who is heading up the project spoke at TED 2011 prior to the demonstrations saying that one of the reasons he got into this area of research was the death of a childhood friend in a traffic accident.
A video of what the cars can do was also shown to delegates where the self-drive vehicle was seen tackling regular roads with deers jumping in front of it and large trucks coming against it – all handled with aplomb. Of course these cars are very much in the experimental stage and still have a safety driver and software engineer on-board at all times in case anything goes wrong. However it will be interesting to see some, if not all this technology, making its way into all cars in the future.
Source: Search Engine Land