For those of you who love science fiction movies like me, I have great news for you; the future is becoming more realistic as every minute passes by. Not long ago, I was in the theater watching Will Smith in IRobot talk to his car and tell it to go places without even putting his hands on the wheel. I’ve always thought Hollywood had much exaggerated its depiction of the future, although Google’s new technology is in the process of proving me wrong.
Google has started as an American web search engine and progressed into making mobile software, and now it’s investing to create new technology for the Transportation industry. According to latimesblogs.latimes.com, “Thrun is a Stanford University robotics professor and a project leader on Google’s Driverless Car effort — a system that enables cars to drive on their own, safely, without human input. So far, Google’s driverless cars have safely logged more than 140,000 miles on California roads.” “While Thrun’s contributions to the Google project are personally motivated, the engineer believes that the technology can eradicate traffic jams and curb fuel consumption, as well as save humans now-wasted time and prevent needless deaths.”
According to slashgear.com, “the first step in the process is navigation, something that requires a little more than the Google Maps Navigation functionality on display in Android.” “Once the passengers are set, the car loads up information created by one of Google’s massive data processing centers into the local computer. The remote computers map the route and the local computer continually processes data from the car’s sensors, including a standard GPS sensor, a powerful laser array for “seeing” obstacles, and small radar arrays mounted around the side of the vehicle.”
“The laser mounted on top of the spoiler is probably the most crucial element for its close-range operation: it creates a three-dimensional image of everything in the immediate area of about 50 feet. The laser compares the immediate surroundings of the car to the measurements taken by the previous manual run, paying special attention to moving objects and taking extra input from a wheel encoder. This allows for much more precise movement than GPS alone, keeping the car on a route accurate to a few centimeters when compared with the previously gathered data.”
“The laser can differentiate between other cars, pedestrians, and small and large stationary objects, and it doesn’t need light to function. The radar arrays keep an eye any fast-moving objects from farther out than the laser can detect. The front-mounted camera handles all traffic controls, observing road signs and stoplights for the same information that a human driver uses. Google’s computers combine data from the laser and the camera to create a rudimentary 3D model of the immediate area, noting for example the color of an active traffic light.”
According to sfgate.com, “California has become the third state to affirm the legality of driverless vehicles, setting the stage for computers to take the wheel along the state’s roads and highways – at least eventually. Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed SB1298, which makes so-called autonomous vehicles legal in California.”
So now that we have driverless cars, what’s next America?