Tuesday, October 12, 2010
The Google Car
Street View Google Car from Cantagalli on Vimeo.
Google has successfully road-tested self-driving automobiles. Seven robot-cars, manned by engineers and drivers with spotless records, drove more than 140,000 miles with very little human control, The New York Times reports. The cars drove all over California, including heavily trafficked Hollywood Boulevard and San Francisco’s Lombard Street, known for its tight zig-zag turns, according to the Google blog.
Only one accident happened when a Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a traffic light, engineers told New York Times.
The high tech autos are specially designed Toyota Priuses. They look like regular cars, except for a cylinder-shaped sensor, or the vehicle’s “eye,” attached to the roof, according to the Daily Mail. Built-in video cameras, radars, sensors and Google’s map database navigate the cars, the Google blog said. The mobiles, developed by engineers from DARPA, or the research and development office of the U.S. Department of Defense, will supposedly reduce car accidents and carbon emissions.
Although automated vehicles are far from being mass produced, they raise perplexing questions when it comes to driving law, based on the idea of human control. “The technology is ahead of the law in many areas,” Bernard Lu, a senior staff counsel for the California Department of Motor Vehicles, told the New York Times. “If you look at the vehicle code, there are dozens of laws pertaining to the driver of a vehicle, and they all presume to have a human being operating the vehicle.”
It appears the future is starting to look like the science fiction of yesterday.