At the moment, the cars used in the experiment followed the pre-planned path, but the company expresses its confidence in developing technology that would make it possible for a car to follow paths without extensive prior preparation. This helps to give independence to persons with driving difficult and disabilities.
The development of the technology was inspired by the determination of the company to develop a car that would assist persons with disabilities independence to drive. The blind and other persons with disabilities that make driving difficult or impossible are specifically targeted by this car. In addition to assisting the disabled persons, the technology has cost-reducing implications both to the governments and individuals with the opportunity to scale.
For example, the technology features potential that can help to enhance the capacity and efficiency through allowing cars to drive at close distance without causing any major accidents. The technology also has the potential for automating more efficient routes that would in turn help in effective decongestion of urban arteries, while at the same time reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere and the cash spent on gasoline. According to Sebastian Thrun, the car can create a significant economic difference regarding the fuel and time saved through avoiding common mistakes and negligence experienced on the roads.
Over time, Google is expecting their cars to become more efficient through developing innovative tools with higher ability to interpret information required to help in understanding navigation paths. The maps will be updated using sensory input, thereby, making it possible t navigate efficiently in uncharted routes.
In preparation to welcome this technology, Nevada made laws in June 2011 that would allow the use of the driverless cars in the state. These regulations took effect in the state since 1st March 2012. Google has been advocating for the creation of a rule that would allow these cars to be used alongside other vehicles.
The system integrates information acquired from the Google Street View and the artificial intelligence software that brings together input from video cameras mounted in the car, radar sensors in front of the car LODAR sensors mounted on the car and the position sensors mounted on the back wheels and helps in locating the position of the car on the map. The system has been mounted on various car models and tested whether they have excellent performance. The tests done on the cars that were released on the streets had limited human intervention.
The team has tested at least eight different kinds of cars that include: six Toyota Prius, a Lexus RX450h, and Audi TT. In the cars being tested were dozens of drivers with clean driving record and Google’s engineer on the co-driver seat. The test drive was conducted in the San Francisco’s Lombard Street that is famous for steep hairpin corners and through the city traffic.
The automobile moves at the speed stored in its maps. It is also capable of keeping its distance from other cars ahead of it with the help of sensors mounted on it. There is as well an override program that allows a human to take control of the car such as pressing the turning the wheel or stepping on the brake, just like the cruising controls already mounted in the car.
Although Google has not yet started developing the technology for commercial purposes, it hopes to pioneer technology that it can later sell to the automobile manufacturers.