Kwik Fit | Wednesday 28th May 2014 3:00pm
This week, Google unveiled a prototype of their long-awaited self-driving car and gave resident Californian’s the opportunity to try it out for themselves.
At first glance, the vehicle that Google showed to the world looks like a giant toy and wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney Pixar ‘Cars’ movie, but there is no doubting the huge technological leap such vehicles will bring and how they might change our day-to-day lives.
Google showcased a number of individuals who might benefit from a self-drive car and placed a large emphasis on how driving takes up so much of our daily lives. So if we’re not actually doing the driving we can spend the time on long journeys interacting with one another and making conversation. Or if that’s not your cup of tea, sitting in silence for the entire journey while everyone stares at their mobiles and tablets (The Google car comes with wifi right?)
But the most amazing facet of the Google self-drive car that was highlighted was the way in which it could improve lives. In the video (which you can watch below) we meet a Californian named Steve who is visually impaired. As Steve takes a test drive in the Google car, it is at this point you realise the true practical implications of self-drive technology which can open up a world of possibilities for people like Steve who, for the first time, can get from A to B without relying on the support of others.
So how do self-driving vehicles work? Essentially it is an extension of existing technology already available on many modern cars such as cruise control, emergency braking and self-parking systems. The self-drive car takes these systems to a whole new level and adds a multitude of sensors so that the onboard software knows exactly where the vehicle is in relation to the road and objects around it. In addition a series of gyroscopes, accelerometers, altimeters and ultra-sonic detectors allow the vehicle to build a detailed 3D map of its entire surroundings so you should never hit a pot hole again!
Google’s big reveal follows that of self-drive technology rival Volvo who announced just two weeks earlier that they had been trialling their own self-drive vehicles on the streets of Gothenberg in Sweden, so we could be seeing cars like this on Britain’s roads in the not-too-distant future as companies vie to launch the world’s first self-drive car for sale to the public.
Watch the unveiling:
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