Google’s Self Driving Car Hits the City Streets
By Lenny Pierce on May 1, 2014
Google’s self driving cars have already logged a lengthy 700,000 miles on open rural highways, but now they are setting their sights on the far more hazard-laden city streets.
“A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area,” said Chris Urmson, who is the head of Google’s self-driving-car project. Google engineers have modified the car’s software to recognize and respond to pedestrians, buses, and stop signs. The cars can even pick out something as subtle as a cyclist making a hand signal.
The video below shows how the car can safely navigate around a construction zone, cross a rail road intersection, and not have a panic attack when trying to make a right turn while surrounded by pedestrians and cyclists:
Driverless cars first became street legal in Nevada back in 2011. Since then, the only reported accidents happened when a human driver had taken the wheel or when another other driver was at fault. Technicians stress how the car can be simultaneously aware of far more elements of the road than a human possibly could. Additionally, unlike a human, the car won’t get distracted, no matter how en fuego that babe on the sidewalk is. Naturally, there are still some challenges associated with driverless cars, including who would be responsible should there be an accident. The car owner? The manufacturer? Just imagine trying to argue with a car over whether or not you should get insurance companies involved.
The city driving tests were held in Mountain View, CA, a city whose traffic is pretty tame compared to the etiquette-free streets of New York or the matrix of cow paths that is urban Boston. Do you think these cars will someday manage in even the most complicated of driving scenarios, or are their roadways that even a computer could never decode? Tell us below.