Google driverless car


The high tech company Google has a fleed of self driving cars. By August, they had logged 480 000 kilometers.

Major auto manufacturers in the USA and Europe are also working on the technology for autonomous vehicles.

Volvo is doing road tests and says it plans driverless cars by 2020.

 In September, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill to allow autonomous vehicles on the roads in his states. ‘ Today we are looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality, the self driving car.’

The technology for these cars includes cameras, radarand motion sensor. The systems have been improved through competition sponsored by the US government agency, DARPA, the defence advanced research projects agency. Richard Mason, an engineer with the Rand corporation , helped design vehicles for races between 2004 and 2007. ‘ Every 2 years  the cars came back and they took in 10 times as much  data as they did before so they also cost more and more but there’s just this exponential increase in capability.’

Visitors to the recent LA auto show got a glimpse of the future even though these cars need a driver.

Cars like this tiny Mitshubishi have become more fuel efficient and new electronic features are making  Hondas safer. ‘ A camera that’s mounted on the passenger’s side mirror  actually engages on your navigation screen so you can safely change lanes.’

Others safety featuresinclude collision warning systems at the front and the sides of the cars. These systems help drivers but don’t replace them.  

Leslie Kendall  says autonomous cars will go a step further to make the highway safer. ‘ By taking out individuals in the transportation equation you also remove most of the likelihood for an accident.’

But consumers may at first be reluctant to give up control. ‘ It’s going to take time to realise that the technology is indeed reliable but it will have to prove itself first.’

Richard Mason says the technology already works and the biggest challenge is reducing the cost for driverless vehicles for hundreds of thousand   of dollars to something more affordable.

VOA NEWS, Los Angeles.


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