Sebastian Thrun, a software engineer at Google, posted on the company’s official blog over the weekend that they have been developing technologies that will allow vehicles to drive themselves. Thrun states that some of the very best engineers have logged over 140,000 miles in the self-driving cars; traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway, across the Golden Gate Bridge, around Lake Tahoe and from their Mountain View campus to their office in Santa Monica.
The way the cars work is by the use of sensors, video cameras and laser range finders all in tandem with information collected by manually driven vehicles that Google has sent out to map routes. The automated cars are relayed the information gathered by the other cars after it is processed at Google’s data centers. The goal of these cars is to, not only, cut energy consumption but to also cut the amount of deaths caused in traffic accidents (the number is currently at about 1.2 million people a year). Google hopes that with these cars incidents can be avoided because even when a human doesn’t see something coming, the car does and will act accordingly. Although these vehicles are self-driving, none of them have ever made a journey without a driver present to take over and police officers have been told as to what is going on.
Google is just now informing of these cars, however, various California residence have spotted and captured them on video as early as last year, though they weren’t sure what they were and some of them just assumed they were the Google Streetview cars.