Since their initial release, Google’s self-driving cars have been constantly updated, from design to technical features. By now, Google’s cars have driven around 1.7 million miles and have been involved in 11 minor accidents.
These are the facts, but what about the features? There are plenty things to say and we’re going to take a look at them in this article:
[ Image credits: Ed and Eddie’s Flickr ]
1. Airbags on the outside
Google has patented this idea for its self-driving cars by building a system with inflatable bumpers. These will react when an accident occurs. Sensors will be able to detect when a collision is imminent and will automatically inflate the bags. Google has also thought about the pedestrians who could be bounced off by the bags by choosing a viscoelastic material for them. We’ll just have to see when and if they decide to implement this idea.
2. Mastering navigation
After so many driven miles, Google’s cars definitely know how to navigate on city streets and even on highways. Obstacles are not a problem for these self-driving cars, so pedestrians or any other drivers who are on the road don’t have to worry about their safety. Moreover, there is always the possibility that the person behind the wheel can take control of the car if necessary.
LIDAR stands for Light Ranging and Detection and it is a camera that rotates. It uses lasers to map the surrounding area. The 3D map that is generated can extend up to a distance of 200m. This is how self-driving cars are able to “read” the stop signs and see how close pedestrians, bicyclists or other cars are from the vehicle.
4. Predicting software
Google is currently focusing on creating software that will deal with the unpredictable environment of the city. Driving in the city can be quite a challenge, especially when there’s high traffic. In some cities, the streets are always crowded, so a software that is able to predict a certain behavior can be a life saver in some situations. As a driver, you can’t always pay attention to every little detail, but a software can do this for you.
Sensors are placed on the front and on the rear bumpers. These sensors tell the driverless car whether it’s getting too close to another car or if there are any objects nearby. This feature is also used in cars that are equipped with intelligent cruise control.
Thanks to a camera that is placed on top of the car, it will be able to detect and read road signs, traffic lights and also avoid certain obstacles. The camera will send all the information it receives to the car’s computer and the car will know when to stop in order to drive safely.
This is where all the information that the car receives from the outside environment is analyzed. The car will then accelerate, brake or steer according to its surroundings. This car computer is extremely advanced because it not only knows what to do when the car “sees” a certain stop sign, but it also helps the car when it comes to assuming what others would do in a certain situation.
8. GPS locator
This feature can also be found in some of the more recent smart car models, but Google’s cars need highly accurate information about the car’s location. This is crucial because the car will drive itself according to its surroundings. The car receives information from GPS satellites, which are also combined with information received from tachometers, altimeters and gyroscopes to give a precise location of the car.
Google’s self-driving cars – On the market in five years
Google has big plans for its driverless cars. These features will change over time, making the car more efficient and more fit for dealing with traffic.
Google is actually thinking about making a two door car, which will look very much like the Smart we all know and love.
This is just the beginning of Google’s driverless cars. If you want to keep up with all the fresh news from the connected car world, you can follow me on Twitter or bookmark this blog.
What are your thoughts on Google’s cars? Are you excited to see them on the roads?