Mon, Oct 11, 2010 - Page 12 News List

Google looking to improve safety via self-driving cars

Bloomberg

Google Inc, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, said it’s testing vehicles that drive themselves to help improve road safety and address environmental concerns.

The self-driving cars have traveled more than 225,000km in the experiments, according to a posting on Google’s blog on Saturday. The vehicles navigate by maps and use cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to monitor traffic.

“Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use,” Sebastian Thrun, a software engineer with Google, wrote in the blog. “While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future.”

The cars, which have driven in San Francisco and around Lake Tahoe, are never without a human operator to ensure safety. Google said the technology has the potential to cut the number of traffic accidents.

Google has devoted resources to clean energy and spent US$2.8 billion on research and development last year. It has developed artificial intelligence tools that help users navigate the Internet, including a service that enables speech recognition and a search-engine feature that predicts what users want as they type their queries.

“Your car should drive itself; it’s amazing to me that we let humans drive cars,” Eric Schmidt, chief executive officer of Google, said at a technology conference last month. “It’s a bug that cars were invented before computers.”

This story has been viewed 1278 times.
TOP top