Seeing a car that drives itself on the highway in ten years may not be as weird as it is today, a NY Times article reveals. Google, once having the search engine as its only business, is now driving a series of tests in six Priuses and an Audi TT equipped with sensors, cameras and radars. The aim is to make the cars self-drivable by using artificial intelligence software developed in-house.
In secret and in plain view, Google’s seven test cars have driven more than 140,000 miles with little intervention from humans, out of which 1,000 were totally autonomous.
The program could save lives and fuel, because computers are not heavy-footed and do not accelerate more than necessary and don’t brake right after that, like many humans do.
The cars have been equipped to use GPS and emit radar signals to locate their surroundings and create a virtual map that guides them. So far, the system is not yet 100% reliable and warns the driver for eventual errors or uncertainties that may occur in the way. The human can ultimately have the decision over the computer by pushing a red button, pushing the brake pedal or moving the steering wheel.
One more aspect that should be noted about Google’s self-driving cars is that the system’s implementation could save space on highways, making possible for cars to drive much closer, because the risk of a collision would be greatly reduced (the computer has much faster reactions than any human driver).
Car sharing schemes could also be implemented, with the cars having the possibility of being summoned and arrive at your door in the shortest time possible, all by themselves.
I know, this may seem a little weird, but imagine, for instance, if you trusted your car to drive you to the nearest gas station on your last droplets of gas, or to take control when you’d have fallen asleep… how would you feel?
I’m not advancing ideas as to totally trust the machine to drive you and have no control over it whatsoever, but rather a milder approach in which the machine could help you feel good driving your thing wherever you want and still feel safe at the same time.