Google seems to be going full throttle on its self-driving car project by clocking over 300,000 miles between its dozen odd cars used in that project. Google has also added the Lexus RX450H to its fleet of fully automated cars that could one day replace drivers.
Road accidents claim over 1.2 million lives and injure countless others each year as per World Health Organization figures and Google has decided to use technology to at least halve that figure by modifying cars that will not require drivers at all in the future. The current fleet has not suffered a single accident till date while being driven by computers devised by some of the best engineers in the world.
Currently, the fleet of cars being tested by Google utilizes a team containing a trained driver and software engineer to take over as soon as they feel the car losing control over a situation. In the near future, Google plans to retain only one member in the car instead of two as confidence levels have risen due to an accident-free record.
Google’s self-driven cars utilize a combination of video cameras, radar sensors as well as a laser range finder to virtually see surrounding traffic as it follows detailed maps stored in its computers. These maps are created using vehicles that drive down those same roads and map roads, lane markers and traffic signs before being loaded on to computers in the driver-less cars.
However, Google still has to figure out ways to overcome several obstacles such as temporary construction signals or slippery snow-covered roads before its system can truly replace drivers. Google hopes that overcoming all obstacles will free drivers from the drudgery of daily commuting as well as make the roads a safer place. The company also hopes that such cars will encourage car-pooling and reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
Adding the Lexus RX450H is just another step by Google to test its system on different cars and systems to finally achieve its goal of creating a totally self-driven car. Google’s efforts and the significant number of accident-free miles under its belt could certainly turn this wish into reality in the coming years.