Google may be closing the gap even further towards what used to be a dream and reality Although they say a half decade’s worth of work is still ahead, the company is seemingly gaining traction on development and taking journalists along for the ride, literally. Google opted to take them through a 25-minute route around their real world “testing grounds” of Mountain View, California, where the car showcased it’s 100% driver free skill set. However, a pleasant spring drive through the well-mannered weather of Mountain View may not particularly mimic driving conditions in rainy Seattle, Washington or black ice in Boston, Massachusetts. Additionally, parking is still a troubling dimension for the Google car, and if a light goes out in an intersection, hand motions and signals via traffic officers are still yet to be entirely comprehendible. These are only a few of the millions of scenarios that Google admittedly needs to iron out.
Aside from unexpected elements of driving as mentioned above, how extensive does street mapping actually have to be in order to have the car safely operate solely on its own? Well, if you consider the possibility of a 4,000 pound piece of metal disregarding traffic rules and jumping up onto sidewalks then “very extensive” is your answer. The reason Google has grown so confident as to drive critics around in their cars is because they have effectively mapped 2,000 miles of the surrounding area down to a tee. The head of that department, Andrew Chatham, provided the main thought process of Google’s system to optimally function. At all times the car will be looking to figure out where it is, who/what is around it, what will that person or thing do, and how should I react. Its reported that even curb height has been measured and taken into account, so imagine how long the remaining 4 million miles of public road the U.S. has to offer is going to take.
With roughly 30,000 U.S. road related deaths attributed to human error every year, creating an autonomous car would presumably lower that atrocious amount greatly. In fact, in 2012 the wheel was passed to Ron Medford, former official at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an appropriate candidate for such a revolutionary project. First hand, Medford knows the importance of roadway safety and the impact this technology will eventually make, adopting safety as his primary mission.
The other well known challenge Google is having a hard time addressing is trust. Consumers will ultimately have their doubts but before theres even the chance at judgement, public safety officials will have first crack at whether or not it will even hit the market. After the long and extensive battle for legal approval comes the struggle to deaden public skepticism. Yes, I think its safe to say we all think it would be a great idea, being that traffic will more freely, there will be less accidents, and the insane thought at the possibility of a nap during your commute home, but if it comes a reality, our optimism may turn to weariness.
Nonetheless, there are still several years of development to be completed prior to the discussion of implementation. Currently, Google has not shed any light as to the business and distribution pertaining to the technology. Whether or not they will design their own vehicle for the product is still up in the air as well, but were guessing automotive development may be too much of a headache to pile onto tech development and will most likely just license the technology to existing automakers. 2017 was the mark Google co-founder Sergey Brin set, however we know that something of this caliber is no walk (or drive) in the park.
If you want to check out how the Google car works, visit our previous post on our blog page “The Self-Driving Car: A Thing of the Present”