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Google X's self-driving car currently has a top speed of 25 mph

Google previous efforts in the self-driving car realm have involved retrofitting existing manufactures’ vehicles. For example, Google currently maintains a self-driving fleet that includes vehicles like the Lexus RX 450h and the Toyota Prius.
 
However, Google’s latest self-driving car comes from its own skunkworks group: Google X. Google X, which previously developed smart contact lenses that monitor glucose levels for diabetics, is headed by Google co-founder Sergey Brin.


The early electric vehicle (EV) prototypes have a top speed of 25 mph, don’t have a steering wheel, and reminds us of a full-size “Cozy Coupe.” The interior basically consists of two seats, two seat belts, a display screen that shows the preprogrammed destination, and not much else. But of course, this is just the early prototype stage to test the viability of such a vehicle; so future variants will definitely spruce things up a bit.
 


Google’s hope for the future is to take humans completely out of the equation when it comes to traffic accidents. According to Google, 1.2 million people die worldwide from traffic accidents involving motor vehicles. Of those, 90 percent are caused by human error.

Sources: Official Google Blog, Google+



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Hm
By bug77 on 5/28/2014 9:49:00 AM , Rating: 1
I wonder why they left out the steering wheel. If this was a finished product, maybe it would have made sense. But in a prototype, I'd like to be able to override the computer in case it screws up. Because that's why it's a prototype at this point, because the computer is expected to screw up sometimes; or maybe it's already smart enough to know when it screws up and just stop when that happens.
But the progress Google made in a few years of running this program is really, really impressive.




RE: Hm
By Peter-B on 5/28/2014 9:57:03 AM , Rating: 2
The Guardian says that:
quote:
An initial 100 testbed versions would retain manual controls, Google said as it unveiled the car on Tuesday. The controls are needed to comply with the law in California which along with Nevada and Florida allows autonomous vehicles but only if a driver can take charge.


Source: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/may/28/...


RE: Hm
By arazok on 5/28/2014 12:36:07 PM , Rating: 3
I’d think it lowers costs substantially. It also has no stereo.

I remember reading a few years ago that a self driving car costs Google $140K to equip. I’m sure the costs are down, and will continue to do so, but making these things as simple as possible will help bring it to the masses sooner.

I don’t see anyone buying this for themselves, but I’m liking the thought of filling a city with these things, and putting a credit card reader on the door. Just walk up to any available Google car, put your credit card in to unlock the door, and tell it where you want to go. If you don’t see one in the area, use a phone app to summon one. You could even ban cars in downtown cores and have everyone using these. You free up all that parking and congestion with something that could actually be profitable and pleasant to use.

No more dirty cabbies.


RE: Hm
By bug77 on 5/28/2014 12:48:41 PM , Rating: 3
Well, removing the steering wheel and brakes won't save you much on a car that already has a $140k self-driving system installed. Plus, it's only going to be produced in limited quantity, so this has nothing to do with "help bring it to the masses sooner" either.


RE: Hm
By MozeeToby on 5/28/2014 1:22:14 PM , Rating: 2
A large chunk of that was the ranging systems which went for $40,000+ at the time all by themselves. Now they can be had for under a thousand. I'm sure that isn't the only place technology has matured. Keep in mind, it's not just what costs have dropped, they've also got all the data on what sensors are actually providing needed information; I'm sure they've trimmed the fat off the designs considerably.


RE: Hm
By tng on 5/28/2014 2:33:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No more dirty cabbies.
That is not likely to happen. Look at what the cab companies did to the web based ride share people.

Just like what the dealership associations are trying to do to Tesla now, cab unions will form and they will grease some political palms and these "dangerous" automatic vehicles will be restricted or pushed out.


RE: Hm
By peterrushkin on 5/28/2014 8:28:20 PM , Rating: 2
YES YES YES!!!!

F those cabbies. Damn, I would actually move to a city if there was this option. Damn! What a dream!


RE: Hm
By zephyrprime on 5/28/2014 1:02:54 PM , Rating: 3
It's just extra weight. Also, steering columns are dangerous - they can cause a lot of injury if you ram into them during a collision. I am aware that collapsible steering columns reduce this danger but it's still partially there. Also, removing it reduces the likelihood of the passenger tampering with the car.


RE: Hm
By MozeeToby on 5/28/2014 1:20:06 PM , Rating: 3
You answer your own question:
quote:
Because that's why it's a prototype at this point, because the computer is expected to screw up sometimes; or maybe it's already smart enough to know when it screws up and just stop when that happens.
They took out the steering wheel to prove that they're confident that it won't screw up.


RE: Hm
By Schrag4 on 5/29/2014 1:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
I'm confident that I won't get in an accident on my way home from work but I'll still wear my seatbelt.


RE: Hm
By Peter-B on 5/30/2014 2:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
You can get into an accident because of others. You have no control over that. However, Google engineers have total control over the car, it's software and sensors.


Turn the seats around?
By Dailyguy on 5/28/2014 10:12:16 AM , Rating: 2
Why not have the seats facing the other way? Then, in an accident the entire seat can impact your body as opposed to the narrow seatbelt. Seems it would be much safer.




RE: Turn the seats around?
By Rukkian on 5/28/2014 10:19:42 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, when you are rear-ended (which is probably much more likely in a computer driven car then other accidents) you would have little protection. Especially in a car this small.


RE: Turn the seats around?
By invidious on 5/28/2014 10:49:23 AM , Rating: 2
Turn the seats around without removing the seatbelts...


RE: Turn the seats around?
By Mitch101 on 5/28/2014 12:09:02 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe its because you don't anticipate the stop and go but sitting backwards can be nauseating. I know a few people including myself at times that cant sit backwards.


RE: Turn the seats around?
By Dailyguy on 5/28/2014 12:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but I don't see why you couldn't take that into consideration within the design - and still use belts of course. The forward speed issue is a tremendous G force generator and would be greatly reduced.


RE: Turn the seats around?
By zephyrprime on 5/28/2014 1:00:02 PM , Rating: 2
Getting rear ended is a lot less dangerous than a head on collision.


By SublimeSimplicity on 5/28/2014 10:34:21 AM , Rating: 2
Given that there's no steering wheel or pedals, I wonder if they could add a fast reacting hydraulic mechanism (like airbags) that would push the seat forward upon a rear impact, allowing for a greater crumple zone behind the passengers.


Google car
By Richard875yh5 on 5/28/2014 8:46:03 PM , Rating: 1
It's an insult to the real car companies calling that golf cart a car. Google is smart with software, but knows very little about building cars.




RE: Google car
By Nightbird321 on 5/28/2014 11:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
It's only to test with... you don't go no steering wheel at 80mph on a busy freeway with the first iteration, the testing and updates is going to take years.


No Brakes Either
By DougF on 5/28/2014 10:06:36 AM , Rating: 2
Just an "OMG WE GOTTA STOP RIGHT FRACKIN' NOW" button.




I can see it now
By frobizzle on 5/28/2014 11:33:53 AM , Rating: 2
Looks more like something Idiocracy's "Rehabilitation Officer" Beef Supreme would make you drive!




Yup
By KoolAidMan1 on 5/28/2014 3:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting
By Rad T on 5/28/2014 11:40:44 PM , Rating: 2
Who is paying for the project? Why?




By foxalopex on 5/29/2014 5:25:08 PM , Rating: 2
I am amazed that for a tech site that a lot of folks seem to believe this technology won't work. Google's test cars have already racked up over 700,000 miles in testing which is well over what most folks drive in a lifetime and they've managed to do it without a single accident or a traffic ticket! It's like saying that there's no way cruise control will ever work. It's also pretty telling when the only collisions that ever happened are from the engineer turning off the robot system and crashing the cars manually. Google's so confident, they're willing to foot the bill in collisions as well. As far as electronics, almost all cars today are drive by wire so in a sense we're already trusting electronics to work.

Personally I would love this technology for long trips, then you can take naps and do other more fun things. Or if you had a long day at work and you couldn't be bothered to drive. Lay back, enjoy a drink and play a mobile game.

Where this will cause problems is in social implications. There wouldn't be as much of a need for truck drivers, cabbies. It would put a lot of folks out of work. It would also change things for enthusiast drivers who would likely need to pay more for the privilege to drive because a human drive is more likely to make an error compared to a computer.




90 percent were driver mistakes
By chick0n on 6/1/2014 5:36:21 AM , Rating: 2
Because those 90 percent should not be driving in the first place. I seen so many f tards on the road is not even funny.

Ban those fuxkers and accidents will happen significantly less




Total Recall anybody?
By Rob94hawk on 6/2/2014 9:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
Remember that movie with Arnold in Total Recall where the taxi was driven by a torso of a taximan?




World's Ugliest?
By DougF on 5/28/2014 10:08:34 AM , Rating: 1
Vote now...I say "Yea".




re: Video
By zerocks on 5/28/14, Rating: 0
keep this crap off our roads
By SPOOOK on 5/29/14, Rating: -1
Decisions for fanboys....
By tayb on 5/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Mint on 5/28/2014 1:34:45 PM , Rating: 3
There isn't going to be any mandate.

You're just going to have to pass on the lower premiums that auto insurance companies will offer to people once Google proves that their car gets in fewer accidents.

But don't be surprised if you carry more liability in an accident. As technology makes various tasks in society less dangerous, it becomes criminally negligent to skirt those safety measures in the case of an accident. There was a time that kids getting sick and dying was a part of life, but nowadays if you intentionally don't bring your child to a doctor when the same thing happens, you're a murderer.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By MozeeToby on 5/28/2014 1:51:23 PM , Rating: 2
The real fun with autonomous cars starts when you can rewrite the laws of the road on the fly to account for current conditions. There are many, many efficiencies to be gained (both in terms of time and fuel economy) if every detail can be planned and analyzed a thousand times a second by a supercomputer with near omniscience (compared to a human driver anyway).


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Nightbird321 on 5/28/2014 11:40:14 PM , Rating: 2
I personally would just like to sleep on the way to work and back thank you very much. I'll take 1 automated car with full reclining seats. The computer can crawl at 5mph on our crumbling roads.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By ven1ger on 5/29/2014 2:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
Automated cars would be useful in other ways, gridlock may actually be eased if automated cars become the norm. Automated cars may prevent the high number of deaths and injury from auto accidents.

Also, the benefits of automated cars are not just for able drivers, but even the disabled (blind, amputees, etc) could easily get into an automated car and just give the instructions to the car, and get to their destination.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By bah12 on 5/28/2014 3:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
it becomes criminally negligent to skirt those safety measures in the case of an accident.

Gotta love the way you Liberals frame everything in your arguments.
Look at it from a different perspective. For most of my life if you got rear ended the person hitting you was at fault. Now with in cab monitors if you cut off an 18 wheeler and hard brake causing him to hit you, given the computer data we have today it is likely he'd have a solid defense.

Once technology is accepted, it becomes harder to create a case of your word against mine. If my goolge car can recreate the data that led to a scenario that a human driver broke the accepted algorithm, then it becomes far harder to blame an accident on the regulated device. "But but I swear your honor I didn't cut him off" is a much harder position to defend legally, because in comes a pile of data saying otherwise.

So I agree they won't mandate it, but they will make driving a normal car so cost prohibitive that they won't have to. Although I agree probably not in our lives.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By bah12 on 5/28/2014 3:45:22 PM , Rating: 2
Oh and by cost prohibitive, I don't necessarily mean more expensive. It could be that the savings in time/cost of ownership/fuel would be so much cheaper that a normal car may not cost any more than now, but the alternative method would be to attractive to dismiss.

Take the horse and buggy. Once cars got cheap enough and the infrastructure matured, owning a horse and buggy became cost prohibitive in time, feed, training, and overall effort.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Spuke on 5/28/2014 4:50:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
So I agree they won't mandate it, but they will make driving a normal car so cost prohibitive that they won't have to.
No.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By splatter85 on 5/28/2014 11:40:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No I wont. Because I just don't honestly see this happening in my lifetime.


You must be 80 years old...


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Reclaimer77 on 5/29/2014 8:50:01 AM , Rating: 2
No, I'm only 37.

I remember seeing electric vehicles at the World's Fair in New Orleans when I was like 5 or 6 years old. And even before then, people were demoing electric vehicles. The concept has been around for like a century or something!

Fast forward to 2014, and we're JUST NOW starting to see commercially available and viable EV's sold to the public. Even then, it's a handful of models by a tiny minority of manufacturers.

And you people think self-driving technology is going to be rushed into the market? I mean, open your eyes and take a look at how things work please.

So that's my prediction, take it or leave it. Self-driving cars won't be commercially viable in my lifetime.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By retrospooty on 5/29/2014 10:40:12 AM , Rating: 2
"And you people think self-driving technology is going to be rushed into the market? I mean, open your eyes and take a look at how things work please."

YOu may be right... Or at least not until your are really old. Here is what will happen. You know those scammers that cause accidents in order to collect on insurance... One of them will seek out a self driving car for a new payday, ram into it and sue Google for several hundred million and it will set the whole process back years while the legal permutations are all played out in court.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Mint on 5/30/2014 12:40:32 PM , Rating: 2
You grossly underestimate how rapidly automation is advancing in all sectors of the economy.

EVs have always been about economics. When gas was $2/gal and batteries were $1000/kWh, they had no chance. At $4/gal and $200/kWh, you now have an order of magnitude difference in the metric that determines EV viability, but it took decades for those conditions to arise.

Automated driving isn't dependent on unit cost or external conditions. It's a software problem. Less than $2000 of actuators, cameras, and computers today is all the hardware we need to statistically put humans to shame in this task. All we have to do is figure out the right code and put together the right dataset, and we've only had less than a decade of economical and adequate computation power to work on it so far.

Mark my words: Within a decade, we'll see automated cars that ask for human override less than once a year.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Mint on 5/30/2014 1:02:44 PM , Rating: 1
Cost has always been an issue for safety.

Fire suppression hardware to cover an entire house is very expensive, and the dangers amount to ~$7.2B in damage and 2600 deaths per year:
http://www.nfpa.org/~/media/files/research/nfpa%20...
Furthermore, fire suppression can only mitigate costs of fire, not actively prevent them.

Driving accidents, OTOH, account for $277B in damage, 30,000+ deaths and millions of injuries per year. Total economic cost is $871B/yr:
http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812013.pdf

Divide that per car, then multiply by lifetime, and you're looking at $50k+ without even considering loss of life. The raw hardware already costs a fraction of that.

You're gonna have to come up with a better comparison than fire suppression to downplay the potential safety impact of automated driving.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By MozeeToby on 5/28/2014 1:48:28 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Self-driving cars wont "inevitably" take away our freedoms, unless we're stupid enough to allow that to happen.
Imagine this: Instead of a freeway you have a 60 feet wide strip of unmarked concrete. Virtual lanes moving in either direction are created and removed seamlessly as traffic flows in one way or the other. Cars tailgate within inches of each other to reduce drag, communicating hundreds of times a second to adjust speed and separation. No one cuts across lanes to make their exit at the last minute because every car knows where it's exit is and asks nicely for the other cars to make room on it's way over. Speeds limits are set on the fly based on weather and traffic to anything from as fast as freeways operate today up to terrifyingly fast by today's standards.

Now imagine you get off your exit and slow to a crawl (gah! 55mph? Seriously?). And have to wait at stop signs and stop lights (why can't we just sync up traffic at full speed like they do on the autoway!?)And then you get rear ended by some dumbass on his cell (What kind of idiot still uses a cell phone instead of a neural interface anyway?). How long do you think it will take people to demand all those "idiots" take their manual cars to the race track if they really want to drive; after all, the roads are for traveling, not enjoyment and driving on manual is (by this point in future history) proven to be far more dangerous than on auto.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Spuke on 5/28/2014 4:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the roads are for traveling, not enjoyment
Where exactly does "it" say this?


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Reclaimer77 on 5/28/14, Rating: -1
RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By degobah77 on 5/28/2014 5:12:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
after all, the roads are for traveling, not enjoyment


Take the enjoyment of driving away and you take away tons of money in a massive market and tons of jobs with it.

The only way I can see automatic self-driving cars being successful is if they still allow for some fun on the roads. Let me have driving style presets and maneuvers such as;

A. Drive-style = Zippy and Spirited.
B. Ok, now take it easy, I'm trying to sip my coffee.
C. Back to Zippy please.
D. Take this corner aggressively (+1 factory preset tire squeal algorithm)

Of course I'm not doing any of the driving here, so the computer can calculate all the driving for me with complete precision as to pull it off and not get into accident. We can have total computer controlled accident-free chaos on the roads...

Still not as fun as driving yourself...


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By Ammohunt on 5/28/2014 2:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Self-driving cars wont "inevitably" take away our freedoms, unless we're stupid enough to allow that to happen.


We are already stupid enough to give up rights giving up a privilege won't even be an after thought.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By marvdmartian on 5/28/2014 3:38:45 PM , Rating: 3
No worries. Apple will come out with a self-driving iOS powered car, in 5 years, with half the capabilities of the then-current Google model.

They will then sue Google for copyright infringement, and the entire concept will be tied up in the courts for 10 years, so you have a long time to make your decision.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By NellyFromMA on 5/28/2014 7:03:34 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it make sense to still include a steering wheel and pedals for overrides and what not? In case the car doesn't do everything perfectly in all situations....


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By KoolAidMan1 on 5/28/2014 7:44:38 PM , Rating: 1
Easy decision. Brainwashed fandroids will never turn against "their precious", even when it goes against what they believe in, stick with hostile user policies, etc.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By retrospooty on 5/29/2014 10:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
You sound really butthurt.

This has nothing to do with Android BTW, its a self driving car and an early test unit at that.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By KoolAidMan1 on 5/29/2014 8:16:19 PM , Rating: 2
Not mad at all, it's just funny that some people spend so much energy blindly defending a company that releases so many second-rate products. If you were ever critical of them then I could take you a bit more seriously.

Fanboys.


RE: Decisions for fanboys....
By retrospooty on 5/29/2014 8:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
me? I think you take everything here too seriously. I'll tell you straight up I have 0 loyalty for Google or Android or any company. I use Android and I defend it because right now I honestly believe it is by far the best thing available. Not for everyone, but certainly for me. I will gladly drop Google and Android in a hot second as soon as something better comes along. And I will be happy to do that because that means I have something better than I have today. I also defend it when I see you saying incorrect things about it. I will continue to do that if you continue to say incorrect things about it. Sorry.


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