AI News, Google's Autonomous Car Takes To The Streets

Google's Autonomous Car Takes To The Streets

Well, today it’s the future, and autonomous robotic cars from Google have already logged 140,000 miles on busy, complex city streets and highways with only occasional human intervention, and 1,000 miles without any human control whatsoever.

Writing about this kind of thing makes me all tingly, because ever since I saw that autonomous Passat park itself at Stanford a year ago, it’s become clear that robotic cars aren’t some far-off futuristic dream, but that this technology is actually achievable in the near term.

And of course, it’s not just that: autonomous cars have the potential to reduce traffic by driving closer together, drastically improve gas mileage with cooperative drafting, and (most importantly) significantly reduce the number of car accidents, which cause 1.2 million fatalities worldwide and exponentially more injuries plus untold emotional (and financial) trauma.

Besides the big honkin’ LIDAR system mounted on the roof, the rest of the equipment is fairly low-key… There’s a position sensor mounted on the wheels, some small radar sensors in the bumpers, and a video camera in front of the rear view mirror to detect stop lights, stop signs, pedestrians, and bicyclists.

The NY Times article talks about two specific circumstances when a human had to take over during their demo: “once when a bicyclist ran a red light and again when a car in front stopped and began to back into a parking space.” My guess is that programming the car to be able to deal with another car in front backing up is certainly possible.

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