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AUTOMOTIVE / SAFETY

Brave New World: Google's Self Driving Cars Are "Tomorrow's Reality"

By Tony Ibrahim | Thursday | 27/09/2012

After dominating the smartphone market with their Android operating system, Google plans on conquering the driverless car, and today they've come one step closer.


Click to enlarge
Spot the car with no driver

On Tuesday in California, Governor Jerry Brown will sign off on legislation concerning the safety and performance of self-driving cars before they hit highways and roads in the state.

But before he could give driverless cars the sign off, he went for a ride in one of Google's auto-driving Toyota Prius'.

Brown described his first impressions as 'skittish.'

"Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they'll get over it."

His confidence in the technology grew, claiming "today we're looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow's reality."

Although Google has been pioneering the technology, they don't intend on manufacturing and selling driver-less cars. Instead they'll anticipate partnering with car manufacturers to implement the technology, which they expect will be available to the public within a decade.

Jumping into a driver-less car is daunting, but apart from the trepidation, Google's co-founder, Sergey Brin claims "self-driving cars will be far safer than human-driven cars." Brin isn't alone in his assessment with backers noting nearly all car accidents are the result of human error.

Self-driving cars have the potential to make roads safer, put an end to the chore of driving, reduce congestion and provide transport for people who can't drive themselves, such as the blind, disabled, elderly and intoxicated.

In order to know when to accelerate, break, speed up and slow down, self-driving cars use a flurry of computers, sensors and other technologies. The autopilot can be overridden by anyone behind the wheel at any time, allowing the car to be driven normally. 

Even though it feels driverless cars are quickly coming, in reality they're being delayed by reactive legislation. According to the Associated Press, the bill by Democratic Senator Alex Padilla will establish safety and performance regulations to test and operate autonomous vehicles on state roads and highways. The Californian Department of Motor Vehicles will need to have legislation for driver-less cars drafted by January 1, 2015 as the new technology isn't covered by current state law.

California appears to be ahead of the curve when it comes to new car technologies. Not only will they be the first state to host new driverless cars, Honda's hydrogen-fuelled Clarity was launched in the state as well.

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