Monday, 11 Oct, 2010 Technology

Google Launches Autonomous Cars


The number of search engine Google decided to launch a number of autonomous vehicles equipped with radar sensors and laser range finders that are able to "see" and interact with other cars on the road.

According to the 43-year-old director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Google software engineer Sebastian Thrun, the company's automated cars have already traveled from Mountain View to Santa Monica and on to Hollywood Boulevard.

He mentioned that the vehicles driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge and traveled around Lake Tahoe. "All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles," said Mr. Thrun.

In addition, Thrun, who is also the co-inventor of Street View mapping service, said that the whole experiment became possible thanks to Google's data centers that are able to process a huge amount of data collected by the vehicle when mapping their territory, informs NYTimes.

Although the cars travel by themselves they are not unmanned. Due to the fact that Google's main priority in the project is safety, each car has a safety driver behind the wheel. In case of emergency the driver can take over the control of the vehicle.

"[In addition], we have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software," said Thrun.

Google considers that its autonomous vehicle technology can be used to considerably reduce road traffic fatalities.

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