News Item

Self-drive cars clock up 700,000 miles

Google's cars have been taught to deal with thousands of city traffic situations.

In August 2012, Google announced that their 'driverless' cars had driven 300,000 autonomous miles and, today, that number has more than doubled.

The company has taught their self-driving cars to deal with huge numbers of abnormal traffic conditions, using software models for 'thousands' of different situations, such as:
- detecting construction zones by recognising signs and traffic cones . . the cars can even change lanes as indicated by the cone layout.
- keeping a safe distance from obstacles such as vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
- not stopping in the middle of a level-crossing . . waiting on one side until there is enough room in the traffic ahead to fully cross.

It seems that the trickiest contribution to driving is other drivers and pedestrians, but Google explains 'What looks chaotic and random on a city street to the human eye is actually fairly predictable to a computer'.

The cars now model such possibilities as the likeliness of a car running a red light, and they can detect cyclists, read their hand signals and predict their movement. The cars have also learned not to run-down pedestrians and cyclists at pedestrian crossings - and they can even track objects behind them.

The company admits that it still has a lot of work to do, but explains that a self-driving car will never get tired, distracted or drunk - and it can see farther than its human counterparts, see at night and cover 360ยบ.

Google says it's 'optimistic' that a self-driving car is an achievable goal.

Details from ars technica below . .

  • 29 April 2014
  • RIN

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