If you’re a Hollywood Sci-Fi fan, watching cars that can self-drive would come as no surprise to you. While many of you might believe that the autonomous cars seen in movies like I, Robot, are far-fetched from reality, then you should go through your assumptions about technological advancement again. Google, the company that prides itself for developing bleeding edge technologies, came up with cars that wouldn’t need drivers.
The dream of an artificially intelligent car that’ll drive itself is not new. Such cars have been around since the 70s, but they didn’t have to offer much in terms of functionality. When the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the part of Department of Defense responsible for developing new technologies for the military, introduced the concept of autonomous cars, it seemed pretty far-fetched and fictitious. But the years 2004, 2005, and 2007 were pretty successful when it comes to the driving technologies behind autonomous cars.
In recent years, Google came up with its own version of a self-driving car. It was possible due to the exponential growth in computer industry and the ability of AI to perform much complex tasks. A recent survey report was published in MIT Technology Review that suggests that Google autonomous cars are safer and smoother than cars driven by human beings. In a blog post, Chris Urmson, engineering lead on the project, said
We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day, we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.
The data collected over the years show that Google autonomous cars have been significantly better at braking, accelerating, and taking turns than a human driver. However, there have been a couple of incidents including a Google car. But both of these accidents occurred when cars near-ended Google cars. Both of these incidents took place because of the mistake by other drivers.
If you are interested in learning more about Google self-driving car and the science behind it, you can visit this article by Popular Science.