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By 11 October 2010 | Categories: news

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Google announced over the weekend that it has been hard at work developing cars which are able to drive themselves. 

In a post on the company’s official blog, the group describes how the technology works and the reasoning behind its development. 
 
“We have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.”
 
“Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to ‘see’ other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.”
 
According to Google, safety has been a number one concern while developing the technology. 
 
“Safety has been our first priority in this project. Our cars are never unmanned. We always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control. And we also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software. Any test begins by sending out a driver in a conventionally driven car to map the route and road conditions. By mapping features like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance. And we’ve briefed local police on our work.”
 
Although the adoption of this technology may take some time (Gartner estimates that mainstream adoption will take ten years or more) it certainly paints the future as the epitome of what science fiction might have imagined it to be several years ago. 
 
 

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