Are Google and Apple about to Introduce Autonomous Cars?

Peter B. GiblettStarred Page By Peter B. Giblett, 24th Mar 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/2cgkf7s4/
Posted in Wikinut>Business>Investment

The driver-less car seems to be the goal for both Tech-giants and Auto-makers alike and the future of the automobile seems anything but conventional. Are you putting your name down to purchase the autonomous car?

Beyond Google Street View

If you have ever taken a look at Google's Street-View product you will have undoubtedly spent time roaming around neighbourhoods looking at the view, perhaps with the intention of moving into the area. Yet the technology associated with Street-View can bring a whole new dimension to our everyday lives, through the driver-less car.

Many of the Google Street-View cars have been spotted roaming many cities, usually having darkened windows so you are unable to see inside and there have been many rumours that these cars are already driver-less or at least remotely operated. But there is a world of difference between these cars (packed full of secret electronic gadgetry) and the car that you will use for your family, the focus of this review today.

One of the greatest challenges of the driver-less car is to make the technology totally safe, to ensure that a new mother could put their new born baby in it and have it drive them home from the hospital without encountering any danger. One of the challenges of computer programs is that they have no will to stay alive - a human normally has ingrained within them the desire to survive (innate within any living being) meaning that if they can find a soft landing place they will, which has saved countless lives over the years.

A move by Apple and Google

Both Apple and Google have been bold enough to show their concepts at the world leading Geneva International Auto Show, perhaps to the displeasure of traditional auto makers. It is argued that the Silicone Valley tech-giants have deeper pockets than traditional car manufacturers, who have all been financially challenged since the economic collapse of 2008.

Apple is reputedly creating their own electronic driver-less auto-mobile without any assistance from car manufacturers, although cars sporting what has been speculated as their testing equipment have been spotted both in California and New York, yet these are simply cameras mounted on conventional cars but are seen as the basis of Apple's future technology offering. Of course Apple is well known for keeping its future plans a closely guarded secret.

The Impact

The immediate projected impact is to reduce the number of traffic accidents (including fatalities) by as much as 80%. The cost of such safety undoubtedly comes at a price that means the vehicle will NEVER break the speed limit, so you will have to plan extra time to complete you journey. Of course Google seems to be more open about their testing of autonomous vehicles and arguable are ahead of Apple in the race to bring out their offerings.

Google's new prototype has neither a steering wheel nor pedals so the human user cannot impact how the car functions. It is also reported to be slow crossing all-way stops due to the computer program taking extra precaution, but in truth many human drivers are also very hesitant at such crossings. The Lidar technology, that is on-board these vehicles does not spot obstacles on the road, such as rubbish/trash bags, temporary traffic signals, or potholes and steer around them. It also does not recognise people signalling at the car, such as a police officer, telling the car to stop. Google does plan to have all these problems fixed before introducing the vehicle in 2020.

In testing Google has completed more than 700,000 driver-less, accident-free miles (1 million km), and may have more than ten cars on the road being tested at any time. One challenge though this vehicle has problems handling heavy rain or snow-covered roads, presumably because of problems with the image sensing equipment, which will need to be overcome before these vehicles can really be declared as ready for use.

The State of the Law

One of the biggest challenges of the driver-less car is the state of the law. The majority of legal jurisdictions do not recognise anyone or anything other than a human being as being able to drive a motor vehicle. The problem with current law is that some of it dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages and arguably has not changed much since.

In the future blind people may be able to drive cars, as may people who are drunk (provided they cannot touch any equipment that controls how the car operates) because all that would be required would be an instruction (presumably verbal) telling the car the destination. The future state of the law would need to recognise a mix of vehicles (which will ironically still include the horse drawn carriage), some of which will have bans on distracted driving (e.g. making mobile phone calls, texting, or using the computer) while this would all be permissible in the driver-less car because the "driver" is no longer a actually driving the car.

Bowling the policeman over as you drive on by would not be permitted in any jurisdiction, but is is clear the law has to start catching up to the technology right now in order to meet a future that will include autonomous cars.

Image Credits

  • Google Streetview car in Winnipeg by chrisd.ca
  • Apple iMove by pixshark com
  • Driverless car by formtrends.com
  • Don't do this by IMSI (Part of a royalty free collection held by the author)

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Tags

Apple, Autonomous, Car, Desire To Survive, Driver-Less Car, Google, Heavy Rain, Obstacles On The Road, Prototype, Secret Electronic Gadgetry, Snow-Covered Roads, Steering Wheel, Testing Equipment, The State Of The Law, Totally Safe, Will To Stay Alive

Meet the author

author avatar Peter B. Giblett
Author of "Is your Business Ready? For the Social Media Revolution"

Social media consultant, with C-Level background.

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Comments

author avatar Retired
24th Mar 2015 (#)

I feel like we are living in that cartoon "The Jetsons" LOL

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author avatar M G Singh
25th Mar 2015 (#)

Great info

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author avatar Carol Roach
25th Mar 2015 (#)

I would be afraid to be in one of those cars,

also what happens when there is an accident, no driver? What about the insurance claims?

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
25th Mar 2015 (#)

Carol, you raise some important questions which is why I said that the state of the law will have to catch up with the new reality. I wonder if there would still have to be a designated driver who would shout "STOP!" in a dangerous situation.

I cannot see me getting into such a car either, I think they would be too slow to react to danger.

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author avatar Ptrikha
6th Apr 2015 (#)

The signalling systems would also need to be modernized to "detect" 'Driverless" cars.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
6th Apr 2015 (#)

One option is that they could emit a directional signal that tells the approaching car the colour of the light. but that could also be useful for cars having accident prevention systems.

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author avatar Retired
26th Mar 2015 (#)

I would love a car like this, but like Carol said, what if there's an accident? Good point.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
26th Mar 2015 (#)

Yes the law needs to catch up.

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author avatar Retired
27th Mar 2015 (#)

lets see who gets it done first.

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author avatar Peter B. Giblett
27th Mar 2015 (#)

One of the other options is that an existing car company beats them to it.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
31st Mar 2015 (#)

Endless possibilities. Lifestyle is changing faster by the day. When we dare to dream the impossible, they become possible sooner than later. Certain issues not even thought of will crop up, but over time we will overcome them. Robots are taking over and we will soon be led by them, even get enslaved by them - siva

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