From Street View To Drive View, Google Step Out With Automated Cars

Technology in today's modern cars is something that most of us take for granted. From Antilock Breaking Systems (ABS) to Satellite Navigation, modern technology in our vehicles make our everyday lives easier.

With the aim of making our lives easier, safer and more enjoyable, there seems to be no end to the limits of technology and what it can do, but is there often a point when our reliance and trust in modern advances takes us out of the comfort zone?

A potential example of this might be cars that seemingly drive themselves. Although the concept has been around for many years and has already been successfully tested on tracks and testing grounds, the Internet giant Google are the first to road test such a system on the streets of California.

Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun said that the cars use video cameras mounted on the roof, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see" other vehicles on the road.

Throughout recent road test experiments, the automated Google vehicles were manned at all times by a trained driver ready to take control if necessary. As far as nerves go, these 'trained drivers', who are probably normally in full control of the vehicles they are in, must have felt a little uneasy in the knowledge that they were at the mercy of a machine and only there to take control if anything went wrong!

It's claimed on the Google official blog that the self-driven cars have already logged in excess of 140,000 miles that have been largely incident-free, apart from one bump when the Google test car was reportedly shunted from behind at a traffic light.

Although many people would feel uneasy with the prospect of self-driven cars, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of road accidents that result in serious injury or death are caused by human error or dangerous driving. Google state that their aim is to improve road safety and to greatly reduce the number of accidents that result in death and serious injury.


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