AI News, Google has built a Matrix-like simulation of California to test its self-driving cars

Google has built a Matrix-like simulation of California to test its self-driving cars

While this in itself isn’t massively surprising given Google’s history as a software company (though it is a bit scary), the company is also petitioning California’s state officials to allow safety testing within the Matrix, instead of testing on real roads.

Google has built the entirety of California’s road system (about 172,000 miles) in software, along with accurate simulations of traffic, pedestrians, weather, and so on. There’s no word on the hardware being used to create the Google Matrix, but it’s probably a fairly large cluster of servers.

Google’s virtual self-driving cars have so far driven more than 4 million miles within the Californian Matrix, facing all of the usual challenges that its real-world self-driving cars might face (wobbly cyclists, vehicles running a stop sign, etc.) By comparison, Google’s physical fleet of self-driving cars (mostly modified Toyota Priuses) had only driven 700,000 miles as of April 2014 —

Earlier in the year, according to the Guardian’s freedom of information request, Google wrote the following to California state officials: “Computer simulations are actually more valuable, as they allow manufacturers to test their software under far more conditions and stresses than could possibly be achieved on a test track …

If Google wants to put vehicles on the road that are completely controlled by an on-board computer, and wants to avoid the tsunami of lawsuits that will surely follow, it will need to really prove beyond doubt that its self-driving AI is comparable to a human driver.

Google's self-driving cars are coming to Atlanta

SAN FRANCISCO — Atlanta could be next for a full-fledged self-driving car program, following in the footsteps of Phoenix, where Alphabet-owned Waymo is already picking up residents in cars with no drivers.  Waymo tweeted Monday that it has targeted the Big Peach for an evolving series of self-driving car tests.

Driving in Atlanta makes Georgia the seventh state Waymo has tested it cars in, after California, Texas, Washington, Nevada, Michigan and Arizona.  'Now that we have the world’s first fleet of fully self-driving cars on public roads, we’re focused on taking our technology to a wide variety of cities and environments,' says Waymo spokesperson Lauren Barriere.

And Hyundai and the VW Group just turbocharged their efforts by teaming up with Aurora, a new self-driving hardware and software startup founded by the former head of Waymo's program, Chris Urmson.  With self-driving technology growing increasingly sophisticated, most experts believe that the big hurdles for self-driving car networks will be a combination of regulatory issues, weather, road condition snags and at least initial consumer hesitation.

The nation's two big ride-hailing companies, Uber and Lyft, also are trying to develop their own self-driving plan given that removing the driver from the equation radically improves their business models.  Lyft has struck partnerships with a number of automakers, including Ford and GM, in order to ensure that its service can flip the switch to autonomy and not get beat out by new ventures.

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