Google's self-driving car now races on rooftops (w/ Video)

Mar 07, 2011 by Lin Edwards report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Google has demonstrated its self-driving Toyota Prius racing around a rooftop parking lot at the Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference held from February 28 to March 4 in Long Beach California.

Google Inc. has been engaged in testing autonomous cars for some time, both in controlled conditions such as last week’s demonstration and out on the road, with each car driving at least 225,300 km (140,000 miles) without mishap, as reported in an earlier PhysOrg article.

At last week's conference attendees were given a short talk by Sebastian Thrun, a software engineer with Google, and then were allowed to travel inside the car as it raced around a closed course on a nearby rooftop parking lot.

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Google Self-Driving Car In Action

In the demonstration the car had been programmed to travel fast, screeching around the tight corners to demonstrate that it can be programmed to drive around a course aggressively.

Thrun, who said he decided to research ways of making roads safer after a childhood friend was killed by a car, also showed the conference attendees a video of their cars out on the open road in California, driving autonomously in normal traffic conditions, even avoiding obstacles such as a deer that wandered out in front of one of the cars, and navigating tight curves on a hillside road. In these conditions Thrun said the car is always driven conservatively and there is always a human in the driving seat as backup.

On the open road the destination is programmed as with a GPS and the car navigates along the route. In this way self-driven cars have driven automatically from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

is not the only company experimenting with driverless cars, such as the Made in Germany (MIG) car covered in PhysOrg last year and the SARTRE car platoon in Europe.

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User comments : 9

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jm_ponder
1 / 5 (4) Mar 07, 2011
Wow what a really useful video! You see the Google car close up for all of 3 seconds - the rest of the video is of the car 200+ metres away being driven behind a wall and trees.
_ilbud
5 / 5 (2) Mar 07, 2011
You're missing the point
Occupodies
not rated yet Mar 07, 2011
Wow what a really useful video! You see the Google car close up for all of 3 seconds - the rest of the video is of the car 200+ metres away being driven behind a wall and trees.


Yeah I was expecting to see the car operating in normal traffic, but even these videos show great improvements in automated vehicles if you saw how it was 3 years ago when their were funded contest winners with vehicles that performed far worse than google's.
fmfbrestel
2 / 5 (3) Mar 07, 2011
You're missing the point


There is no point. This is not a report on any tech advance, it is only a report on Google showing off their established tech.

Headline aught to read: "Google shows off driver-less cars, Again."
GaryB
5 / 5 (4) Mar 08, 2011
fmfbrestel>


There is no point. This is not a report on any tech advance, it is only a report on Google showing off their established tech.

Headline aught to read: "Google shows off driver-less cars, Again."


I'd guess that the majority of human drivers couldn't drive the course that fast. It shows ability to do more dynamic maneuvers.
Beard
not rated yet Mar 09, 2011
What flaws does it still have that prevent the public from buying one? Can it parallel park on a city street?
fmfbrestel
5 / 5 (2) Mar 09, 2011
What flaws does it still have that prevent the public from buying one? Can it parallel park on a city street?


Well for one, it probably has $10k-$15k worth of sensors and computers in it. Minimum, probably much higher since they are all custom setups.

Secondly, Google's legal division might just quit in protest if they started selling them to the general public. People will still die while riding them. (even if at a lower rate, a death is still a death) and the lawsuits would be crazy.

IMO, Google is waiting for someone else to set the legal precedent, or for laws specific to driver-less vehicles to be passed.
DGBEACH
not rated yet Mar 20, 2011
They should stick to search engines IMHO. THAT they do well. I have an Android phone that will probably never do what it's capable of because of their incompetence in that department. Time will tell I suppose, but I personally would not want one of those things driving around my kid's school or playground!
Beard
not rated yet Mar 21, 2011
Time will tell I suppose, but I personally would not want one of those things driving around my kid's school or playground!


I would be much more worried about extremely fallible humans. Oh don't mind me while I: ignore the school zone speed limit, talk on my cellphone and eat a bagel!

No wonder thousands upon thousands are killed in traffic accidents every year. We need to fix this as soon as possible to save lives and increase efficiency.

Also, sleeping my entire commute? Hell yeah!