One of the key news in the tech world this week was Google’s self-driving cars hitting 2 million miles on public roads. Well, I guess it’s time for us to actually and finally acknowledge how awesome they are and what incredible potential they have.
So imagine reading a book, giving yourself a manicure or getting a short nap while your car drives you safely to your destination. Wouldn’t that be simply mind blowing?
The Noble Idea Behind Google’s Self-driving Car
While the possibilities mentioned above may sound too cosmetic, Google’s self-driving car can create a real impact in the lives of people by giving them the independence to commute wherever and whenever they want, irrespective of their ability to drive.
-> People with physical disabilities, and visual impairment can reach their destination without depending on anyone else
-> People with low physical robustness like senior citizens or those who are feeling unwell can safely ride this car
-> Over 1.2 million deaths are due to traffic accidents every year, the world over. With Google’s self-driving cars, this number can be brought down.
As phenomenal as these cars are, a lot of information about them is shrouded in obscurity. After all, the Self-driving car project was Google’s well-kept secret for many years before being unveiled to the public some two years ago.
So here we give you the easy and simple lowdown on 18 less-known yet incredible things about Google’s self-driving cars:
- Modified Lexus SUVs and the new prototype vehicles are the two main types of Google’s self-driving cars so far.
2. These cars either do not have steering wheels or pedals (prototype) or they do not make use of them (modified Lexus). Instead, the software and sensors handle the driving completely. So you ride this car instead of driving it.
3. With powerful laser sensors and radars, these cars can detect objects as far as two football fields away and can “see” in 360 degrees in all the directions.
4. At the moment, the prototype version can seat only two people. So it can feel like the perfect car to go on a drive with your favorite person.
5. The prototype car has a button to start and pull over. And yes, there’s also an emergency stop button.
6. The modified Lexus has a master kill switch which when pressed gives you a regular Lexus by disabling the autonomous features of the car.
7. Okay, so this car is a bit of a slow-mover. The maximum speed it can reach is 25mph. So moms everywhere are going to love it (sorry, kids).
8. The Google car is Eco-friendly car as it runs on electricity, not fossil fuels.
9. The front part of the car is made up of a soft, foam-like material while the windscreen is flexible to protect the pedestrians in case the car hits them.
10. In fact, to ensure pedestrian safety, Google has applied for a fresh patent recently for a sticky coating that could be applied to the car’s hood, front bumper and side panels. This layer of adhesive would ensure that pedestrians stick to the car instead of bouncing off it when hit.
11. These cars are currently being tested in the US in majorly Mountain View (California), Austin (Texas), Kirkland (Wisconsin), and Metro Phoenix (Arizona).
12. This smart car uses both map and sensor information to determine its location so the car will never make you feel like you’re lost for directions.
13. The different types of sensors in Google’s self-driving car are lasers, radars, and cameras which detect objects in all the directions.
14.The software of the car enables it to drive in various difficult situations such as driving in the snow and rain.
15. With cute, round blue eyes and a small black nose, this car has been designed in a humanizing fashion. This adorable look apparently helps to quell the road rage of other drivers.
16. These cars would be available to the public by 2020. (yay)
17. But it would cost upwards of $150,000 and may initially not be immediately available to the general public for sale.
18. The high cost of this car is chiefly because of the laser sensor at its roof. This laser radar array can cost upwards of $70,000 and is more expensive than the rest of the car.
The future sure looks promising for these cars. Though there is still some reluctance from insurance companies, authorities and automakers regarding the safety of these cars but we hope that rigorous tests and safety mechanisms will bring down the associated risks greatly. After all, more than 90% accidents are caused by human errors (DUIs, and texting being the topmost reasons) every year -so the seamless and safe driving experience that Google’s self-driving car can potentially provide is definitely worth the wait.
Curious to know more about this car? Check out how a drive in it feels like!
Let us know if you’d like to ride these cute little things. Do you think they are dangerous or promising? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to share this post with other tech-enthusiasts you know!