The future has arrived. And at the steering wheel is a company under the Google business umbrella called Waymo.
It has been no secret that Google has been working on a self-driving car for years. A prototype model was driven by a legally blind member of the public on public roads in October 2015. With no pedals or steering wheel, the test run successfully lasted ten minutes.
Google’s team of engineers continued fine tuning the car for the next eight years and a further 2 million miles. Working stealthfully in Google’s “X” division, the team has completed tests and it’s time to prepare the vehicle for the market.
The public announcement of Waymo as a standalone company under the leadership of CEO John Krafcik is a definite indication that the Google self-driving car is on the move. Terms such as trucking, logistics, ridesharing, and individual users have been teasingly dropped but the exact movement and timing of public sales are still unclear.
So what else is there to know about the Google self-driving car?
Safety and Ease of Use
A key factor behind the development of the Google self-driving car has been safety.
The Google management team state that they believe self-driving cars will cut down on traffic deaths. With about 1 million traffic deaths across the world every year, this figure needs to be significantly reduced.
The Google self-driving car is also a useful tool for those who cannot drive due to impairment or disability. People such as the legally blind man who took the car for a test spin in 2015.
Autonomous car travel is designed to make the journey as easy as possible for the occupants of the car.
What Can Google Self-Driving Cars Do?
We can picture the little self-driving pod cars zipping along public roads and perhaps cheerfully toot-tooting other drivers, but what exactly can these cars do? If one of the main aims is to cut down traffic deaths how can the cars prevent this?
The Google car can pull over to make way for emergency vehicles. They can detect squirrels and other small animal obstacles. The vehicles can recognize hand signals from construction workers or traffic cops (stop!).
The pod cars even have two different types of honks. There is the polite honk to gently alert other drivers and the extreme honk. The “Hey! You’re about to hit me!” honk.
Employees and guests of Google have enjoyed over 10,000 rides in the self-driving cars. During this time, all aspects of the vehicle’s functions have been tweaked and fine-tuned.
When Will the Cars Reach the Streets?
Despite these leaps forward, it’s still some time before we can expect to see self-drive cars in our everyday traffic lanes. There are still the major (and no doubt tricky) points of manufacture, cost, and city and state regulations to navigate.
In the meantime, there are plenty of other advancements in the motor vehicle world to keep us entertained. On-demand trucking, for example.
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