A few months back I talked about Moonshot thinking, the Google X facilities, and how they are working to impact the way we live. Whether it be injecting nanoparticles into our bodies to constantly monitor for diseases or providing Internet access to third world countries via air balloons, these are the things Google X dreams of making a reality.
If you’ve turned on the news lately or read any technology blogs, you’ve probably heard about the “Self-driving car”. The self-driving car is at the forefront and one of Google X’s hottest projects. Google X started the project by identifying a problem: the overwhelming amount of automobile accidents. You may not realize it, but auto accidents are the leading cause of death of people between the ages of 4 and 34, and it is almost always entirely because of human error.
So, Google X is exploring ways to combat accidents and help drivers that are visually, hearing, or physically disabled with the self-driving car. This video can be seen here. The way it operates is obviously quite complex, but for purposes of this blog, will explain it in laymen’s terms. A collection of radars and lasers are mounted on and in the vehicle, allowing it to always know its place in time and space. The lasers act as a seeing eye for the vehicle letting it know if objects are in front of and around it when needing to make a move on the road. At first, this was achieved, but not perfectly. Over time, Google X has been able to develop algorithms that allow the vehicle to make necessary traffic moves and make them as smoothly as an experienced driver.
Google X employs “Safety Drivers” as part of this project to monitor performance, support future enhancements and operability, as well as ensure safety through manual intervention, somewhat like in Drivers Education.
So, when will we be able to actually use self driving cars? That is the million dollar question. However, I will say after seeing all the recent competition in the market, it will probably be sooner than we think.