Cars, Tech

Google Tests ‘Knight Rider’ Cars

Google engineers have tested a car that drives itself. The self-driving cars, which have been likened to the 1980s television series ‘Knight Rider’ by some, are being tested on the streets of California. They use video cameras mounted on the roof, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic as well as detailed maps to navigate the road ahead. This is made possible by Google’s data centres which have the ability to process the vast amounts of information gathered by the vehicles. Already there are reports that the cars have done thousands of miles albeit while manned at all times by a trained driver who is ready to take control as as well as a software expert.

Google hands free car

The search-engine giant expect the cars to eventually reduce the number of road accidents and reduce road traffic. According to Google, about 7 cars, which have funnel-like cylinders on the roof that acts as the vehicle’s ‘eye’, have driven 1,000 miles at a time without any hands-on human input. Overall, the total number of miles covered by the cars so far is around 140,000 miles covering areas such as San Francisco’s Golden Gate bridge, Lake Tahoe and the Pacific Coast Highway. Most of the car journeys on motorways have been reported to be mostly incident-free, apart from one bump when the car was reportedly hit from behind at a traffic light.

Furthermore, Google maintains that safety remains its first priority in the project as routes are pre-planned and mapped first by real drivers, and local police are always briefed in advance. It is expected that if current trials are successful, it will vastly reduce the over 1.2 million deaths caused by road accidents each year.

Talking Point

Would you buy a ‘hands-free’ car?

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  1. I read an article about this on wired the other day. There has been one mishap (accident) at a traffic light so far, but lucky for Google, someone hit the car from behind.

    Not sure if I’m ready just yet to trust my life in the hands of a computer but the technology will get better and eventually this will absolutely be the safest way to travel. I’ve been looking forward to a chauffeur like this for ever!

  2. This is definitely an interesting topic. I mean, weren’t we supposed to have flying cars by now? I guess that was more talk than anything, at least for now. However, self-driving cars is a step towards that direction. Has technology really allowed for the soon-to-be launch of self-driving cars? If so, how will they go about using these type of cars? Will they enforce all cars within a state to be all self-driving cars because I don’t see it working with people who drive their own cars on the same streets?

  3. I’m not surprised people are already looking for ways to make self-driving cars. Technology is consistently finding new ways to fulfill its purpose of making our lives easier. I’m sure this will have an even greater reaction to that of hybrid and electric cars. It’s only a matter of time.

  4. If I can’t even do an electronic book, I don’t think I could do a “hands-free” car. I think the idea of it is there, but like Computers mentions-it will be the cost that will be the deciding factor for car buyers. What’s going to happen if one of these cars gets in an accident? All the functions will be lost and expensive to fix right?

  5. It is a good idea but I think there will be a big lashback once the first fatality occurs. Then people will question if the same accident would have occur if a human were behind the wheel. Many people will feel nervous trusting their lives to a machine.

  6. So before the Google glasses, the company was already investing on innovating auto parts to result in self-driving cars. I love the idea, I think it is the idea of the future, but I don’t think we are technologically advanced right now (or even in a few decades) to actually make this work. I think it is more plausible if cars run on tracks instead to lessen the possibility of mishaps.

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