AUTOMOBILE

'Google moves a step closer to selling self-driving cars'

google-self-car Google self-driving car | courtesy Google
  • A model where we manufacture cars for sale will require the same sort of electric vehicle charging that exists today... Our prototype vehicles are fully electric. That’s not to say the eventual vehicle we mass manufacture won’t be a hybrid — Sarah Hunter of GoogleX

After successfully lobbying for legislation allowing driver-less cars in four US states, Google has apparently gone one more step closer to bringing the self-driving cars to the market.

At a public meeting in California recently, a top Google executive is reported to have said Google's own car company, Google Auto, was now considering making and selling self-driving cars itself.

Previous reports said Google was planning to stitch a partnership with some of the world's biggest automobile manufactures in what experts assume was to find hardware for its technology. But then Google unveiled its own autonomous prototype.

Speaking at the California Public Utilities Commission a few days ago, Sarah Hunter, Head of Public Policy at the Google Self-Driving Car Project (GoogleX), has made a noteworthy remark: that the company has plans to build a few hundred prototypes and possibly move towards mass manufacturing, reported the Guardian.

“A model where we manufacture cars for sale will require the same sort of electric vehicle charging that exists today,” she is quoted as saying.

“Our prototype vehicles are fully electric. That’s not to say the eventual vehicle we mass manufacture won’t be a hybrid.”

Guardian said when Google introduced its own design of a self-driving car — a two-seater electric car that resembled a lot like Tata Nano but without pedals and steering wheel — it said the company would build just hundred vehicles by the end of 2015.

However, at the event in California, Hunter, according to Guardian, said, "We’re … making a few hundred of them. We’re making them to enable our team to learn how to actually build a self-driving vehicle from the ground up.”

That means Google may have found a way to overcome the roadblocks that stop it from meeting it's 2020 deadline to bring the cars available for sale in the market.

One of the oppositions faced by Google is the traffic laws that experts said is far ahead of the existing law, some of which, according to New York Times, dates back to the era of horse-drawn carriages.

Most of the existing traffic law anywhere presume to have a human being operating the vehicle and is not fully clear how they would interpret the actions of driver-less car.

Addressing that challenge, Hunter said, “We haven’t decided yet how we’re going to bring this to market. Right now, our engineers are trying to figure out … how to make a car genuinely drive itself. Once we figure that out, we’ll figure out how to bring it to market and in which way,” she was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Hunter also offered a glimpse into the history of Google self-driving car project.

“When we started six years ago, it was retrofitting ordinary cars. We started with the Prius. We then moved on to a Lexus . We bought ordinary cars and applied lots of sensors to them.

“We put them on the vehicles and we developed the software to be able to ensure the car could get pretty good at autonomous driving. In fact we got to — I don’t know if you’d call it a level two or level three — a relatively competent autonomous driving experience for freeway driving. We got there several years ago. We enabled ordinary people from Google to try the car,” Forbes quoted her as saying.

The levels refer to the classification of robotic cars that rates the degree of driver assistance required in cars, with zero denoting completely operated by driver and five meaning fully automated.

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Topics : #Google | #automobiles

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