Do you sometimes get tired of driving? Maybe had a along night and have to drive early that morning? Don’t you sometimes wish that your car can drive itself? That idea may have been a little ridiculous to some, but Google is making it happen! Google is trying to make that ridiculous idea into reality with the Google Self-Driving Car. This car drives you to your destination without you having to touch the wheel or gas peddles! Just sit back and watch your car drive itself. The software powering the cars is called Google Chauffeur. This software is only functional with electric cars including Googles own custom car. In 2012, 10 test cars were taken on a test drives to San Francisco’s Lombard Street, which is known for its steep turns and also through city traffic. The vehicles have also driven over the Golden Gate Bridge and around Lake Tahoe.
Google’s robotic cars have about $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) system. The range finder mounted on the top is a Velodyne 64-beam laser. This laser allows the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment. The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself. On March 28, 2012, Google posted a YouTube video showing Steve Mahan, a resident of Morga Hill, California, being taken on a ride in Google’s self-driving Toyota Prius. In the video, Mahan states “Ninety-five percent of my vision is gone, I’m well past legally blind”. The car drove him to a drive-thru, to a dry cleaner, and perfectly parked his car in a handicap spot. This car will not only make driving easier, but it will also change the lives of people like Steve Mahan.Because the cars rely primarily on pre-programmed route data, they do not obey temporary traffic lights. The vehicle has difficulty identifying when objects, such as trash and light debris, are harmless, causing the vehicle to turn unnecessarily. Also, the LIDAR technology cannot spot some potholes or recognize when humans, such as a police officer, are signaling the car to stop. Google projects are currently having these issues fixed by 2020. Over the years, Google have been amazing us with their bright ideas. The Google Self-Driving Car seems like a promising one to hit markets. We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.