Google automatic car: almost 500,000 km without accident! Google has drawn up a progress report on its automatic car project. After having made the system more reliable, the next objective will be to get a little closer to real traffic conditions by taking into account the unexpected events on the road.
Launched more than two years ago, the Google's autonomous car has just passed a symbolic milestone by having accumulated more than 300,000 miles (more than 482,000 km) without the slightest accident when the computer was at the controls.
As a reminder, these Google cars (six Toyota Prius and one Audi TT) are equipped with video cameras, four proximity radars, GPS and Lidar (acronym for light detection and ranging, remote sensing by laser) in order to apprehend their environment and detect other vehicles and obstacles. For guidance, the system uses the service of Google mapping and all the data is processed in real time in the data centers of the American giant. Two people are in the car at all times, one of whom is behind the wheel ready to take over the controls in the event of a problem or malfunction.
Google's automated-driving cars, such as this Toyota Prius, have already travelled nearly 500,000 km without incident, especially on the roads of Nevada. © Google
The Google automatic car in real conditions
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Last May, Nevada was the first U.S. state to grant free movement rights to the Google car. "We are encouraged by this progress, but there is still a long way to go," warned Chris Urmson, one of the project leaders. The next step will include testing automated driving on snow-covered roads, a very challenging but necessary scenario. The work will also include interpreting temporary signs for roadworks, accidents and "other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. And to get even closer to real conditions, the tests will soon be carried out with only one person on board, on daily journeys.
These experiments are being conducted in California in the Mountain View region where Google's headquarters are located. The American giant has also decided to use a new car model, a Lexus RX 450h. "This is an important step that brings this technology a little closer to people on daily commutes. We hope that one day, it will allow people to be more productive in their cars," comments Chris Urmson. One of the long-term goals is for the automatic car to be able to take its passenger to work and then return home alone so that other family members can use it.