Description of Google car with pictures and predictions with particular focus on the road transport industry
Google Car & Google Chauffeur
On the 29th of June 2011, the US state of Nevada passed an ‘autonomous car’ law that led to the possibility that driverless technology would be deployed on the roads in the US – this technology for autonomous cars is currently being developed by Google through software called Google Chauffeur.
These achievements from Google engineers are amazing. With an impressive attached laser radar system, the car, its sensors and computer are able to visually take in the information in front of the vehicle such as turns, traffic lights and stop signs to traverse the road. A memorable (and incredible) image that demonstrates just how far this capability goes is that of ten driverless Google cars making their way through the drastic hairpin turns of San Francisco’s famous Lombard street. Since tests on the technology began, Google has logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles.
Concerns around the introduction of autonomous cars in the US press have concentrated around passenger safety. In particular, a lot of the analysis has centered on the problems with liability in insurance. If your computer controlled car crashes into another who’s fault is it? Google’s software or the owner of the car? In many ways the technology is ready to be used and Google has claimed extensive testing on private roads without incident. But it seems that the world is not quite ready for such an invention, even if the technology is ready to be deployed.
Threat to lorry drivers everywhere?
In looking at this new information, it’s easy to conclude that driver-less vehicles are a threat to lorry drivers globally, although it must be noted that many of the Google journeys have had a person in the car. In terms of our business, a high percentage of our work involves a full specialist service. For example: HIAB lorries (lorries with cranes mounted) need to be operated by drivers who can operate the crane, and our flat bed trailer service with vehicles such as motorhomes and JCBs need to be driven off on their delivery site with the associated delivery ramps. Drivers should also take heart from an example in farming – GPS technology has allowed tractors and combines to drive themselves accurately along coordinates but these vehicles are still manned by workers long after the technology has been implemented.
Driverless Cars in the UK
From May 2015, The Transport Research Laboratory authority will be testing driverless cars in Greenwich, London. They’re expected to run in the Greenwich area taking passengers from the main station to the 02 arena. So keep your eyes open! More information can be found here.
[Google Car image - By Steve Jurvetson (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]