For the last five years Google has been hard at work developing self-driving cars. The technology company has made enormous strides over the last half a decade but there’s still a lot more to do.
While extremely impressive Google’s autonomous car still lacks certain real-world capabilities. For instance it’s never driven in snow, parking lots confuse it and hand signals from a police officer are totally unrecognizable. For all their efforts the internet search giant still hasn’t been able to properly substitute a human driver.
Still, while not quite ready for prime time Google’s autonomous-vehicle project has come so far over the past five years researchers are now talking about moving the technology to real-world vehicles.
Even though they’ve logged more than 700,000 autonomous miles since 2009 they still have to improve their maps and refine the software that makes it all possible. Then there’s the challenge of getting regulatory approval.
But the benefits could be huge. Sure, an autonomous car can help you slog through a nightmarish traffic jam but safety is the real upside. There are more than 30,000 deaths per year on U.S. roadways, mostly because of human error, and autonomous cars could drastically reduce that figure.
Naturally Google’s project director for self-driving cars said the technology cannot be offered until it’s been proven safe.
But in spite of its popularity Google’s not the only player in this game. Car companies are developing autonomous vehicles, as are suppliers. Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Continental are but a handful of firms working on this technology.
Despite the competition Google could introduce its own version of this technology in as little as six years if things continue to go as they are now.
[Source: Automotive News]