With Google’s self-driving Toyota Prius obtaining a test license to ply on public thoroughfares in Nevada, you may wonder what makes Google so confident that such a futuristic machine will tick, given that tens of thousands of lives are lost to car crashes every year. Look below for the answers.
Google’s driverless car is developed on the basis of a number of new and existing safety measures, including radar, wheel movement sensors, GPS tracking and state-of-the-art software and digital technologies capable of reading even street signs and signals and helping the vehicle drive through traffic.
Google seems to have used a technology that creates a virtual map of immediate traffic and other obstacles in the car’s central computer system, providing the unmanned vehicle reliable information about the location of nearby stationary objects and the speed and direction of surrounding traffic.
The vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology, which is still in its nascent stage of development, is not yet a part of Google’s ambitious project. V2V communication devices – touted as an integral part of road safety management in the future – can send and receive transmissions when moving within a network of similar devices, ensuring enhanced road safety. It is already under development at the Federal Government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The electronic stability control technology embedded into the self-driving car acts almost like an autopilot, requiring very little or no manual inputs to guide the vehicle. Surveys show a significant drop in the number of fatal accidents when drivers don’t have to perform abrupt manoeuvres.
Despite all of the above points conjuring up an image of a fully automated vehicle, you cannot wait at your doorstep for the Google car to come out of garage on its own and pick you up. A human driver needs to be on-board the vehicle should there be an emergency caused by some technological glitch. Auto makers, however, are seriously considering the possibility of developing a sophisticated system that could do without human intervention altogether.