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April 30, 2014

Google Continues Testing Self-Driving Car

Work Still to Be Done But Technology is Improving

Google's self-driving vehicle is being tested on city streets.

Years ago some people thought a car equipped with cruise control could drive itself.

While that wasn’t the case, it is a future that may not be too far away.

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Photo Credit: Carlos Luna via flickr

Google has been making great inroads with its self-driving car prototype by testing the compact car on roads in California.

“We’ve logged thousands of miles on the streets of our hometown of Mountain View, Calif.,” the Internet giant stated in a recent blog entry. “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.”

The company explained software improvements mean the car can now detect hundreds of objects simultaneously. This means the car can sense pedestrians, stop signs in the hands of a crossing guard, obstacles on the road and more. The key is the car not only senses such obstacles but, unlike a human driver, does not become irritated or tired while traveling.

An added bonus, wrote project director Chris Urmson, is while humans can be distracted and unable to predict what lies ahead while driving, the Google vehicle has shown it can.

“As it turns out, what looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer,” he wrote. “As we’ve encountered thousands of different situations, we’ve built software models of what to expect, from the likely (a car stopping at a red light) to the unlikely (blowing through it).”

Hold off on thinking this means drivers will soon be able to sit back and let the car do all the work, though.

Urmson is honest in the blog, noting there’s still work to do on the fledgling technology.

“Our vehicles have now logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles, and with every passing mile we’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal—a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,” he stated.


W. Brice McVicar is a staff writer for SiteProNews.