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Google’s mission towards to mass market autonomous vehicles took another step forward this week when they were granted a patent for a method of controlling the self-driving car. The patent details how the vehicle can transition from being human-driven to autonomous mode.
The technology raises an interesting thought, where the car could transition to autonomous mode on a section of road that’s dedicated to self-driving cars. Obviously we’re quite a ways out from having all of our roads populated with autonomous vehicles, but by being able to recognize a bar code or a radio tag, a vehicle could switch modes safely – especially knowing that all the vehicles around it are using the same technology.
While a lot of people are skeptical as to why Google is even pursuing this endeavor, we believe in the sake of pushing technology forward, Google is doing everyone a favor. Google of course stands by their desire to ”help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time, and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.”
Even cooler is the fact that the patent outlines how a vehicle could receive instructions from an Internet address over a wireless network. This could be pretty scary in the wrong hands, that’s for sure. We’re still waiting for the day that our Toyota Prius drives itself to a nearby McDonald’s while telling us the specials that it has for that day. Talk about the possibility of intrusive advertising.
At this year’s show, Toyota will participate in the “Smart Mobility City 2011″ exhibit, designed to showcase the future of transportation. One of the highlights of the display will be the Toyota A.V.O.S. (Automatic Vehicle Operation System), a modified Prius that can drive by itself. Designed as a valet replacement, the car can park by itself, drive to the owner when requested and avoiding obstacles.
Toyota’s booth is themed “A not-too-distant future where society and transportation are linked” and will also showcase the Toyota Smart Mobility Park with new charging stations for electric cars and plug-in hybrids, using wind and solar power. In addition, Toyota will reveal its H2V (Home to Vehicle) Manager, which allows an operator to control charging times for an electric vehicle via a PC or smartphone, as well as check the house’s power supply.
See AutoGuide’s complete 2011 Tokyo Motor Show Preview here and look for coverage starting November 30th.
In Google’s continued search for worldwide domination, they have been working on an autonomous Toyota Prius that made quite the headlines last year.
The software development company has gone from search engine success to smartphone success to now proving that they too can push the envelope on technology in general. Having already impacted daily lives with their tools, it’ll be no surprise if Google is the first one to successfully market a self-driving vehicle to the world.
Having logged over 140,000 miles on California’s public roads, Google decided it was time to prove that it can do more than just drive its way through California traffic. To do so they setup a tight autocross course with cones, grabbed a few cameras and recorded the magic as it happened.
And just how far away is the technology? Well, it might not be as close to market as anticipated, but Google is certainly making strides to make the dream a reality. Currently all the miles logged were with a driver in the seat just in case, but the vehicle is fully equipped with tons of hardware from cameras to lasers and radars and GPS-equipped tools in order to navigate its surroundings safely. We certainly wouldn’t mind having the option of having a vehicle drive itself through our daily routines, but at the end of the day we’re automotive enthusiasts because we enjoy the thrill of driving.
Check out the videos after the jump.