Self-driving cars are closer to becoming a reality, as Google announces testing to be done with prototypes around Mountain View, California. Safety drivers will be aboard in case there are any problems that require the vehicle to be driven manually.
For many people who don’t drive, a self-driving car will open up new opportunities for them. Children could be driven to school as the parents prepare for work, families may not need to purchase two cars are the self-driving car can pick up passengers while one family member is at the shops or work. It’s almost possible that self-driving cars could reduce accidents caused by human error by 94%, which is massive.
Google have been using a fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUV that has a lot of driving experience. As of late, the self-driving fleet has travelled almost a million autonomous miles on the roads with about 10,000 miles being driven a week. In terms of speed, the limit is capped at 25mph for suburban roads. The steering wheel is removable, so allows a comfortable ride with the option to drive manually. There are accelerator and brake pedals that can be used as well.
The testing involves finding out what challenges exist for a self-drive car and how people interact with the technology. It’s kind of robotic, and it can be difficult for people to hand responsibility over to a machine. Unlike other humans, trust is something odd to put in a machine. Challenges include getting the car to “think” if there’s no parking near its destination due to congestion or construction work, and there would be more issues that designers may not have thought of yet. There are pilot programs for people to test drive the prototypes for feedback, or to learn what uses a self-driving car could be put to. Until a new technology has been used, it’s hard to know what the unintended consequences could be.
Google’s self-driving car is getting closer to reality, and it seems unlikely to be shelved like Google’s Glasses (For the time being, at least.). Like the Glasses, it may take some people are while to be comfortable with a machine driving around without a person at the wheel. Self-driving vehicles will have to build trust with users and pedestrians, in the same way as people need to gain the trust they’re responsible enough to be given a licence to drive.
Source: Google Blog