Cars that drive themselves are currently on our roads

admin - Friday, 23 July 2010 08:51

  Tech giant Google revealed yesterday that it has built the self-guided cars of the future, already logging over 140,000 miles on California highways and city streets.

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“Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to ‘see’ other traffic, as well as detailed maps, which we collect using manually driven vehicles, to navigate the road ahead,” wrote software engineer Sebastian Thrun on the company’s blog.

Decisions normally left to motorists are made by computer servers housed at the company’s more than one million data centers around the world. A sensor system on the top of the car helps navigate and sense trouble.

Thrun said the test cars always had a driver behind the wheel and a software operator in the passenger seat. Police were briefed before the road trips. Google says the only accident occured when their car was rear-ended — and it wasn’t the computer’s fault.

Google hopes their robotic cars can cut the world’s 1.2 million annual traffic fatalities in half, increase car-pooling, reduce energy consumption and allow cars to travel in tight packs, said Thrun.

Plus, Americans would be able to spend their 52-minute average commute time “more productively.”

Let’s just hope the servers don’t crash.

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