Google’s Self Driving Car was unveiled by Google in October 2010. It featured at the TED Expo in August 2011 and has been being tested out on American roads over the past two years. Now, it looks like Google’s plan of bringing these on the roads has got even closer, with the Nevada State’s Department of Motor Vehicles giving them a license. This makes it the first autonomous vehicle license in USA. The state authorized self-driven cars last year, and the law came into effect on March 1st, 2012. The cars are said to have been successfully tested on highways in the state, and even along the famous Las Vegas Strip.
One might be wondering, how does a vehicle become autonomous and drive itself?
A pet project of Google VP Sebastian Thrun, these cars are essentially Toyota’s Prius hybrid car modified by Google. The cars use a combination of video cameras, radar sensors and lasers, coupled with Google’s vast trove of information on roads and highways, and also information collected from manually driven cars. The cars can be set to auto mode, where they drive themselves, or in a manual mode.
Director of Nevada State’s DMV, Bruce Breslow said in a statement,“Autonomous vehicles are the “cars of the future.” He also added soon members of the public would also be able to obtain licenses for autonomous self driver cars.
While Nevada may be the only state to give an autonomous car license so far, other places too are on their way. Talking about the safety of these vehicles, California State Senator Alex Padilla had said, “The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error. Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analyzing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely.”
With Google’s success in getting these cars licensed, one can be sure competing car manufacturers will have their own prototypes in their testing labs.
In the long run, companies may even consider launching autonomous vehicles in India. Of course, many factors like the complexity and inconsistency of our road and highway system, our Governments inherent distrust of newer technologies, like Google Street View, which they banned, all mean that it will be a difficult road ahead.
What do you think? Will you one day be able to sit in a self driving car in India?