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Google Unveils Prototype Self-Driving Car

Google Unveils Concept Self-Driving Cari
George Putic
May 30, 2014 10:50 PM
U.S. technology giant Google made a step forward in its push for self-driving cars by unveiling a prototype without any manual controls. Google says someday its vehicles will be better drivers than many humans who drive today’s cars. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Google Unveils Concept Self-Driving Car
George Putic
U.S. technology giant Google made a step forward in its push for self-driving cars by unveiling a prototype without any manual controls.

Google said someday its vehicles will be better drivers than many humans who drive today’s cars.

The company's self-driving cars are not a rare sight in western states like California and Nevada, whose legislators are more open to the idea of vehicles with only passive human control.

So far, Google has been converting standard, mass-produced cars, with regular steering wheels and pedals, where a person in the driver’s seat could take over at any time.

Hands free

The subcompact two-seater, presented this week, is a totally new concept, without a possibility for the passengers to control direction, speed or braking.

After entering the destination in the on-board computer, humans can only sit and observe the scenery, or watch the car’s progress on the electronic display. The top speed is limited to 40 kilometers per hour.

“They are a chance for us to explore what it really means to have a self-driving vehicle," said the company’s director for self-driving cars, Chris Urmson. "But in a smaller amount of time we've been working on it now, we have functional prototypes, and it's exciting.”

Urmson said Google wants to develop the technology up to the point where people would be able to call up a car and have it take them where they want to go. The car would then go to the next caller.

Semi-autonomous-drive vehicles

It is very likely that by 2020, semi-autonomous-drive vehicles will be common, according to Zoran Filipi, professor of Automotive Engineering at Clemson University.

“We’ll be able to enjoy other activities while in the car, and, very importantly, we’ll be absolutely safe in traffic,” he said.

Filipi said people will be relieved of some burden of driving on the freeway, but will be able to resume control as they approach their destination.

Google plans to build about a hundred of these prototypes, some with manual controls, and test them on California roads. If all goes well, we could be speeding down the road to the future in driverless cars.

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Comment Sorting
by: Cao from: Jiang su china
June 02, 2014 12:48 AM
Google,the brilliant company with lots of brilliant products.
Why so many great inventions comes out from Amarican?

by: deepu from: Nigeria
June 01, 2014 7:06 AM
great! something new.

by: joey swift from: alabama
May 31, 2014 10:32 AM
It is not a question of if but when this type technology will become mainstream. I welcome these type press releases because it allows people to become familiar and discuss them. Self driving cars will be part of a new future of automation. I can see them being used in tandem with to deliver packages while the owner is at home or at work. DCshippers is a crowd sourced parcel delivery service that uses daily commuters to deliver packages. Imagine how easy it would be to post your selfdriving cars downtime and have it make you money while you are not using it. I cant wait.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
May 31, 2014 12:00 AM
Is it the only purpose for drivers to move? Someone may enjoy driving and handling a car. These driverless cars would be useful for transporting goods as well as for the drivers of handicapped and elderies.

by: Joji from: Queens
May 30, 2014 9:04 PM
They contest the Google Car will be better in some ways, and I think they may well be right. Humans lack the ability to concentrate for any real length of time, and repetitive tasks ease us into mindlessness. Computers can hold speed and distance with far more accuracy than a human, never gets bored or angry or drunk and can recognize patterns. The patterns are actually there in the highway code.

My one question is this – Would the passengers be liable for any accidents? Would Google be liable? It seems like a mess. I have a good driving record and enjoy pretty cheap insurance rates ($26/month from Insurance Panda.. woohoo!). I also enjoy taking my car out for a spin and enjoying the ‘freedom’ of being able to drive anywhere. Will the driverless car allow all this? If not, I’ll have to pass.

Who knows? Maybe insurance as we know it will go away, replaced by any number of models that would more accurately represent the new risk distribution.

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