Driving a car has always been a very human experience. Countless movies, songs and other media have highlighted the liberating feeling of driving yourself around town.
This may come to significant change however as Google's self-driving car seems to have made a leap forward in its development cycle. Being navigated by software called as Google Chauffeur, the team is headed by Sebastien Thurn,former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View.
As of April 2014, the cars have logged in 700,000 unmanned miles. The triumph here being that the software is now being tailored to navigate city streets. The software is being polished carefully to be able to recognise and react to stimuli such as jaywalkers and bicyclists, which apart from signals and your fellow, if somewhat annoying, drivers are very difficult to adapt to.
But results show the technology is better at handling situations which would have completely stumped it a few years ago.
Project Director Chris Urmson has been quoted as saying "We’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal — a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention."He also iterates that the vehicle would likely reduce the number of road accidents overall considering that in principle machines are far more efficient drivers than humans.
This post being his first update since 2012. In the initial tests human drivers were at the ready to take over however the point of the vehicle being that once the software is ready, people will be able to do anything they want in the vehicle from sleeping to daydreaming without having to worry about navigation. Naturally the technology isn't flawless considering the vehicle has been know to drive defensively, especially at intersections where the vehicle simply stands stationary a number of times.
According to Navigant's analyst David Alexander, althought the technology is pathbreaking, finding its way into the market may be a different ballgame alltogether. He also predicts that any kind of accurate software will also be years in the making.
Google hasn't made any overt claims about making the vehicle ready for consumers. Considerations will obviously need to be made for a set of laws and traffic rules that will need to apply to autonomous vehicles. Google's constant lobbying in the state of Nevada led to the passing of a state law allowing for autonomous vehicles which was effective from March 1, 2012 onwards. The law however does require a person behind the wheel and one in the passenger seat during testing.
Let us know what you think about this 'car of the future' and how it may alter your own driving experience.