Having mastered the freeways of California, Google’s self-driving cars now are driving themselves in some of the congested city streets of Mountain View, Calif., maneuvering challenges such as unpredictable pedestrians and cyclists, double-parked delivery vehicles and parking lots, the company said.
Google’s self-driving cars now have logged 700,000 autonomous miles, proof that Google is even closer to having a significant impact on the insurance industry. “With every passing mile we’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal—a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,” said Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project.
“A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area,” said Urmson. “We’ve improved our software so it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously—pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn.”
While all those other moving objects make avoidance more challenging for people, Urmson said its self-driving car is able to detect hundreds of different and moving objects simultaneously and brings several disciplines to the challenge that frequently are lacking in people: patience and concentration. “A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can’t—and it never gets tired or distracted,” Urmson said.
In his most recent blog entry, Urmson intimated the importance that Google Maps play in the success of the Google car, mentioning that the company is teaching the car to drive more streets in Mountain View before it attempts another town.
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