(Image Credit: ExtremeTech)
On April 1, Google announced their partnership with Nascar and eventual self-driven car’s inclusion in professional stock car races. Of course this was an April fools joke that was later debunked by Nascar. Incredibly though, the technological capability behind their claims are very much real.
A recent Google patent was for a self-driving technology the company claims is reliable and safe; the company has tests to prove it. The autonomous vehicles have logged over 200,000 safe miles spanning California’s diverse terrain and landscape. They are designed to react to any obstacles and driving conditions that are realities for life on the road.
Not all that new
Google isn’t the only one to attempt and accomplish this feat. A German company modified a Volkswagen Passat and replaced its brake and steering controls with sensors and state of the art technology. The vehicle logged about 10,000 miles of driving in Nevada. The company claims that over 90% of the driving was without a human driver in control. Many vehicles already incorporate this type of technology to deter accidents or assist drivers in general with hazards they face on the road.
This technology could change society’s way of life. Think of what it could mean if people didn’t need parking space for our vehicles if their vehicles drove themselves home. Accidents would be less likely and drunk driving could be stopped altogether. Concerns of liability remain though. Who is responsible in the event an autonomous vehicle seriously injures someone? These questions and more must be answered in the future before self-driven cars become a reality. This reality appears to be approaching much sooner than expected though.
Legality of self-driven vehicles
Right now, Nevada is the only state where self-driven cars are legal. But just think about that concept. A state has already legalized the act of a car driving itself. Other states look likely to follow in the near future. Naturally, this isn’t the kind of law that was imagined as being necessary even a few years ago, so it may take some time for legislation to catch up.
Trip to Taco Bell
In a recent publicity move, the Google driverless car took Steven Mahan – a legally blind resident of Nevada – to Taco Bell; all without any effort on Steve’s part. You can see the video below for yourself. The very idea that a legally blind individual could step out of their house and go where they want or need to go quickly has already raised the hopes for millions of handicapped individuals who could not otherwise get out and about.
And this is where the rubber meets the road for the technology. Of course we all dream of not having to drive ourselves to work, transforming the commute into effective working time. But there are countless individuals who simply cannot do what many of us take for granted.