Google always goes for its moon-shot which of course sometimes misses the moon by a few inches or so. Yet one area where this search engine giant has proven its worth is in matters having to do with self-driving cars.
The ability to navigate city streets seemed to be the crux for these automatic vehicles. Yet the impossible has been almost realized.
"Jaywalking pedestrians. Cars lurching out of hidden driveways. Double-parked delivery trucks blocking your lane and your view. At a busy time of day, a typical city street can leave even experienced drivers sweaty-palmed and irritable.
We all dream of a world in which city centers are freed of congestion from cars circling for parking (PDF) and have fewer intersections made dangerous by distracted drivers. That’s why over the last year we’ve shifted the focus of the Google self-driving car project onto mastering city street driving," states Google in official blog.
According to the experts at Google, about three years from now, the self-driving cars will be street-smart and roadworthy. Already they are capable of sensing jaywalkers, cyclists and sudden intrusions in the landscape by other vehicles.
The driverless cars are even able to find their way about town in inclement weather conditions. What this means is that be it hail or snow or sleet or wind, the driverless car will make it to its destination in the nick of time without so much as a single scratch on its exterior.
The hassle of driving has been virtually done away with by this phenomenon. We have heard of rockets without passengers but a car without a driver was unheard of.
Yet this is precisely the field where science shows its true colors and makes the commonsensical obsolete and apotheosizes the nonsensical. The most crackpot theories get translated into practical arrangements much to the sheer amazement of the audience.
In Google’s case, over 700,000 miles have already been covered by its driverless cars. That is a distance almost equal to travel worth several times around the earth’s circumference. The built-in sensors and sophisticated detection and operational equipment in the car will allow for sensible maneuverability in, around and about the city streets.
And while this is indeed stressful stuff, Google expects future drivers to sleep or relax in the cars while the driving is done by the computers fitted inside the vehicular interiors.
Watch a video below that shows how Google's self-driving car navigates some common scenarios near the Googleplex: