Google’s Driverless Cars Set to Hit the Open Road
You’re cruising down the streets of Mountain View, California, sipping on a cup of coffee with your feet on the dash and then decide to put down the coffee, turn the radio down and settle in for a nice nap…all from the comfort of the driver’s seat.
We’ve heard about Google driverless car technology – and how their automated vehicle has been through years of rigorous closed-course testing in the past six years.
Well, now, Google is moving onto Phase 2 of its driverless car experiment, with their automated vehicle earmarked to hit the public roads of Silicon Valley, making their debut this summer. Several of the driverless cars will take the streets in Google’s hometown with a 25 mph speed limit and an engineer in the driver’s seat just in case.
The 100% self-driving vehicle is designed to work without a gas pedal or steering wheel, although at least initially, these cars will have a removable steering wheel and pedals to be used for manual takeover in case an issue arises.
The Google driverless car technology clearly isn’t ready for every situation that may arise on the road. Prior to the announcement of the next testing phase, it came out that Google-owned driverless Lexus SUVs have been involved in 11 minor accidents (none of which were the fault of the driverless car) with no injuries reported.
According to CNet, Google will be using this test to determine any kinks that may exist in the vehicle’s ability to handle situations, including the software’s capability to handle what they call “rare and weird situations” – the 0.001 percent of things to be prepared for even if it has never before been seen in real-world driving.
What happens if a goat crosses the road? Does the automated vehicle recognize it in the woods and stop? Does it hit the goat or opt to crash into the median instead?
The result of those instances are yet to be determined.
The Impact of Google Driverless Car Technology
If Google driverless car technology ever makes it into the mainstream (which Google claims will happen by 2020), the impact will be absolutely huge. Driverless cars are projected to create:
Fewer Car Accidents and a Better Traffic Flow
These are the two biggies. Driverless cars should at the very least eliminate human error, cutting down on speeding, distracted driving and drunk driving. These cars are outfitted with 360 degrees of cameras, so blind spots will no longer be an issue. Of course, traffic will decrease, as an effect of fewer accidents and everyone following the rules.
A traditional car can be used to escape – hit the open road and explore without a care in the world. Nobody has to know where you are. An automated vehicle is dependent on GPS, so your car will know where you’re at all the time – and can tell your wife where you were next time she gets in the car.
More Telecommuting Options
Time is money, and driverless cars will allow executives more time to spend communicating with clients or putting finishing touches on presentations all while driving to the office. This is especially beneficial to those who have long commutes, or travel extensively for work.
The Demise of the Taxi Industry
You think taxi drivers hate what Uber has done to their industry now, just wait for driverless technology to come around. Those taxi drivers will likely form alliances with their Uber brethren to protest the implementation of this technology as a cab service. Consumers will love driverless taxis. They will be clean, allow for complete radio and air conditioning control and always take the cheapest, most economical route no matter what.
It may be decades before the average Joe can take advantage of driverless cars, but this latest news from Google makes it seem more possible than ever before.
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