Google’s self-driven cars will soon be appearing on Nevada roads after the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles

approved on Monday the nation’s first autonomous vehicle licence.
The self-driving cars use front/back and side-mounted radars to detect nearby objects, GPS to pull down map data, and rely on a laser to do the heavy lifting by essentially “seeing” the world.

ROAD READY
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IN MINUTES

News and events — visually

HOW DOES IT WORK?

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GPS receiver

Matches position with detailed mapping stored at Google data centres

Laser range finder

Rotating sensor scans 60m distance through 360 degrees to generate 3-D map of surroundings Identifies other road users, lane markers and tra c signals

Video camera

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Position estimator Radars

Measures smallest movement of wheel to gauge position accurately Three at front, one at rear, detect proximity of obstacles

HAVE BEEN TESTED ON:

Inertial motion sensor

Accelerometers and gyroscopes determine velocity and direction

• Highways • City roads • Residential streets One car drove itself down Lombard Street in San Francisco, one of the steepest and curviest streets in the nation.

A driver can sit behind the wheel of the vehicle while the car drives itself. He can gain control by touching the brake or turning the steering wheel The car can be programmed for di erent driving personalities — from cautious, in which it is more likely to yield to another car, to aggressive, where it is more likely to go first.

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Google’s aim is to improve motoring e ciency – reducing emissions and doubling road capacity – and halve the world’s 1.2 million road tra c deaths each year

WHY GO ROBOTIC?

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TRAFFIC FATALITIES 1990-2009
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Fatalities (thousands)

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Fatality rate (per 10,000 vehicles registered)

Computer hardware is stored in the trunk, with speed limits for every road included in its database

Robot drivers: • React faster than humans • Have 360-degree perception • Do not get distracted • Do not get sleepy • Do not get intoxicated • Will drive the speed limit Other considerations: • Road capacity could double by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together • Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption • Reduced fuel consumption equals less greenhouse gases • Could reduce the number of road deaths

The only accident in the testing phase was when one Google car was rear-ended while stopped at a tra c light.
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THE BRAINPOWER BEHIND THE CAR
Sebastian Thrun
• Born in Solingen, Germany, in 1967 • Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University • Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL) • Google’s Principal Engineer; co-developed Google Street View
Sources: Graphic News; Transport Canada SUSAN BATSFORD, GRAPHICS EDITOR, TWITTER @SBATS1; QMI AGENCY

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