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A Look at Google Driverless Cars

Posted March 26, 2015 12:00 AM by CR4 Guest Author

The Google Self-Driving Car, powered by Google's innovative program Google Chauffeur, is certainly making waves in the driving world. With human error accounting for the vast majority of automobile crashes, as well as older drivers losing the ability to drive as well with confidence, it seems like the Google Self-Driving Car is the all-around cure for human-on-human road rage and traffic accidents.

Sebastian Thrun, Google engineer, is the current Self-Driving Car project leader, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and co-inventor of Google Street View. He created the robotic vehicle "Stanley" back in 2005, winning that year's DARPA Grand Challenge and its $2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense. The team that developed that particular system consisted of 15 Google engineers, including Chris Urmson, Mike Montemerlo, and Anthony Levandowski.

State legislation has been successfully passed to make Google Self-Driving Cars street legal for four U.S. states (California, Nevada, Florida, and Michigan), as well as Washington, D.C., with a third state legislation currently in review for stating criteria in the state of Texas.

Google engineer and project team member Urmson says, "We're spending less time in near-collision states. Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers." This statement was prompted by the official road test in which the Google Chauffeur program was placed in the computers of a Prius and Lexus, and proved that while the professional drivers had sharper turns and brakes, the Google Self-Driving Car program proved to run more safely and smoothly through common road obstacles and general routes through a closed test driving course.

Despite the promising applications for people everywhere who are unable or otherwise gradually losing the ability to drive to remain mobile, there are safety concerns among the general public about how truly safe the Google Self-Driving Car will be in the long run. Seapine Software composed a study in February among 2,000 U.S. adults, and the results revealed that about 88% of them would be concerned about driving in a self-driving car, with the main cause for concern being a software malfunction or safety glitch. "We found, not surprisingly, that safety was the number one concern that survey respondents noted for their reluctance to adopt driverless technology," said president and CEO of Seapine Software, Rick Riccetti. "That means that until manufacturers - in this case Google - can prove, without a doubt, that their product is free from software glitches or failures there simply won't be a market for them for the average consumer."

Despite the obvious questions of safety, as well as more liability-related issues, such as who would be at fault in the case of a potential collision between two driverless vehicles, it's clear that only time will tell in the case of this new technological innovation.

As it is, prices are expected to be sky high for the potential first prototypes to be sent off the assembly line, which means that wealthier people with higher vehicular budgets will be more likely to experience it first before the average American gets a shot at it. The technology alone is estimated to cost more than $250,000 per vehicle - but like with the smart phone, perhaps we do need the wealthy to test the newest and latest gadgets for bugs before we get our hands on them.

Despite the negativity surrounding the cost affordability and potential safety bugs, the general buzz and excitement surrounding the unveiling of the Google Self-Driving Car is a good sign that, once we've reached a point that the appeal of the driverless vehicles is virtually flawless, more and more Americans will gradually begin to adopt this groundbreaking technology.

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#1

Re: A Look at Google Driverless Cars

03/27/2015 1:16 AM

Could the same technology be used in unmanned space flights to moon,mars etc

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Re: A Look at Google Driverless Cars

03/28/2015 10:13 AM

In space you don't have to be concerned with a small child running out from behind a parked car.

A robot car has been driving around on Mars for about 11 years now. It has to be autonomous - control and sensing signals take minutes to travel from here to there.

http://cr4.globalspec.com/blogentry/25984/Mars-Opportunity-Defies-Expectations

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#2

Re: A Look at Google Driverless Cars

03/27/2015 12:50 PM

Rather than wondering if this technology could be used for manned ( unmanned ) space flights, I think that one needs to examine the philosophy behind this technology first. I see several problems here.

1. This would be a hackers dream come true, remember the Clint Eastwood movie where the r/c car is chasing him and his partner and the kids playing with their car interrupts the bombers car ?

2. What happens when those that did not have the necessary skills to drive a car manually suddenly have to drive when the o/s crashes ?

3. Imagine a 40 ton big rig going out of control during rush hour traffic in any big city.

4. After decades of the use of this technology, the grid goes down, and it becomes SmashUp derby as millions of cars and trucks go pilotless because no one knows how to drive anymore.

5. Terrorist get a hold of this stuff and they have a new weapon in their arsenal.

6. Older drivers can't get around, ya, we already got that technology, its called public transportation.

I read recently that it takes longer to turn a jetliner off of automatic control, then it does to put it into autopilot, now that's scary.

Motive evolution like that Disney flick with eve looking for the last plant might be good for a kiddies movie but any technology that turns a society into fat, stupid lazy blubs is headed for disaster.

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#3

Re: A Look at Google Driverless Cars

03/28/2015 10:07 AM

Thanks, but no thanks. I don't want one. I enjoy driving. If I want to be driven, I'll call a taxi or ride the bus. The day will come when it is illegal to drive manually. I hope I'm not still around then.

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