Published: October 27, 2014 | Mountain View, CA
Google took its self-driving car(SDC) for a drive at the California campus and showed it to the staff and visitors. The prototype is still under testing phase and the company hasn’t announced a release date so far.
The latest official figures from Google revealed the cars have already driven themselves for more 700,000 miles (1,126,540km), but they struggle to cope in snowy conditions and can’t negotiate heavy rain. Reportedly, the delay in launch date is because of the SDC’s inability to work in snowy and foggy conditions.
Chris Urmson, Project Director, SDC at Google said this is because the detection technology is not yet strong enough to separate certain objects from weather conditions. While the cars’ cameras can spot a traffic light changing, they can be confused by strong sunlight. They don’t distinguish between an empty plastic bag – which could be easily driven over – or a rock, so cars must drive around both. They also can’t detect uncovered manholes or potholes.
The cars ‘see’ pedestrians as moving blocks of pixels and know to stop, but unlike a cautious human driver, they could not spot a traffic policeman at the side of the road, waving for traffic to stop – which could lead to trouble. Despite the cars being allowed on public roads, they need to prepare to set off in more detail than a human driver, because a precise map must be created of exactly where to go – and a car cannot deviate from its route.An area has to be mapped multiple times by a sensor vehicle to record details such as driveways, in order to make the cars’ routes. These details then need to be pored over metre-by metre by humans and computers, in a much more labour-intensive process than in needed to maker Google Maps.
According to the company, the car can see its road worthiness in next five years.
Source: Daily Mail