Google Self-Driving Car Beta
Today Google announced their Self-Driving Car Beta release. Barely more than 6 months ago, Google released a video of several volunteers testing the alpha version of the Self-Driving Car in Google’s own private test space. Now, it appears that they are ready to begin thinking about testing for prime-time.
Google X Labs is heavily invested in the future technologies that would solve multiple problems as well as give humans the chance to use Google services without distractions. Driving is one of those distractions. Wouldn’t it be so much easier to read text messages and search for stuff to buy, if we weren’t distracted by the tedious task of driving?
As expected with projects from Google X, the new Self-Driving car isn’t just toy, it’s the beginning of a legitimate attempt to make driving better. More than half of all traffic accidents are caused by human error. Although we still want humans in cars, it would be nice to take that error out of the equation. And although it might seem a bit controversial to some people, the idea has its merits.
The average driver would prefer to be driven, especially in traffic, rather than have to spend that time thinking about driving only. One of the primary advantages of self-driving cars is that they rarely make mistakes. According to Google testing, they’ve never made one, even after 700,000 miles. Another advantage is that they can also react far more quickly than humans and can communicate with other autonomous vehicles. The combination of these features, if done right, could nearly eliminate traffic congestion. Thereby freeing up the would-be driver, now passenger, from accidents and time-delays.
This latest model has an encapsulated radar module where the prior model had exposed guts. There have also been minor improvements made to both the interior and exterior, to give the car a more polished look. Google also added some manual controls, as a fail-safe and to comply with California DMV laws.
When Can you Buy one?
Matthew Inman (TheOatmeal.com) has a stark interest in things electric. He owns a Tesla Model S and had the chance to ride in this latest model of the Google Self-Driving Car. And as he notes in his article on the subject, “It’s not done and it’s not perfect”. It would be an optimistic prediction to say that we will have self-driving cars, electric or gas by 2020. But the advantages seem to point to that being a good thing. Here’s to hoping that Self-Driving Cars become a reality in our lifetime.