Google developing self-driving cars
October 11, 2010
Google officials revealed Saturday that they are hard at work on road-testing cars driven, not by humans, but by artificial intelligence. [Los Angeles Times]
At Saturday’s TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Google CEO Eric Schmidt declared: “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers. Your car should drive itself. It just makes sense.”
The experimental cars have already traveled 140,000 miles on major California roads, navigating speed limits and traffic patterns on San Francisco’s Lombard Street and Los Angeles’ Hollywood Boulevard as well as the Pacific Coast Highway.
The self-driving cars use video cameras, radar sensors, and lasers to spot traffic and follow maps.
Google predicts that its self-driving cars — which are still very much in the experimental phase — could reduce traffic accidents and save about 600,000 lives a year worldwide. It also predicts these cars would lower carbon emissions.
According to another newspaper report, robot drivers react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated.
The technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption.