Google the always innovative tech giant has been working on its “Google Chauffeur Project” since 2011. The project is headed by Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. The project involves outfitting a car with an advanced 64 beam laser radar system that generates a detailed 3D map of the surrounding environment. The car then combines those maps with high resolution maps from its system producing the data needed for the car to drive itself.The system provides an override that allows a human driver to take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel, similar to cruise control systems already found in many cars today.
Googles self driving cars have been hitting the streets of California and Nevada and have now logged more than 700,000 accident free miles. According to Google there has only been two small fender benders involving the self driving cars in there first stages of testing and both were caused by human drivers when the vehicle was not in self driving mode.
The software still has a long way to go before it reaches a consumer level however according to Google officials the most recent updates have given the software the ability to navigate thousands of different situations that it was not able to deal with just two years ago.
“Thousands of situations on city streets that would have stumped us two years ago can now be navigated autonomously”
The most important upgrades to the software have been allowing it to track hundreds of objects such as,pedestrians and cyclists, simultaneously. The software has also been programmed to react to construction signs and cones, railroad crossings, large stationary objects, and even crossing guards.
Four U.S. states have passed laws permitting autonomous cars as of December 2013: Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan. Many other states most notably Texas currently have proposed bills underway to allow for autonomously driven vehicles. Though it will probably be several years before this technology goes mainstream, there is no doubt that in the near future there will be thousands of these autonomously driven vehicles on the roads. This will surely bring up many interesting changes to the personal injury field with regards to accidents caused by autonomously driven vehicles.