This is how a Google self-driving car sees the world

Google is in the process of refining its self-driving automobiles and what was once considered the future, is quickly becoming a reality. To help drive these vehicles, Google has equipped them with cameras and if you have been curious as to what these cars can see, take a look at the image above.

While the idea of self-driving cars might seem a bit scary, the reality is that the computers are likely a lot smarter than you. For instance, the cameras are always looking 360 degrees, something we humans cannot do. In addition, your current car (if it is a newer model) is likely  using a ‘drive by wire’ system meaning everything from throttle input to steering is a digital process, not analog like the machines of the past.

While the image above does show quite a few details about what the vehicles can see, they are far from perfect. The self-driving cars are currently having issues when it snows as they cannot see the lines of the road and the snow masks the shape of typical objects (lights/signs could be blocked).

Still, the first step of creating self-driving cars is well underway and Google is clearly making solid progress in this department. But questions still remain: when will consumers adopt and trust the platform, and will the vehicles be able to reduce accidents and traffic jams?

Source: BI

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I would love for the day to come when I call my car and it comes and picks me up when drunk, hungover, or too lazy to walk- it takes me where I want to go, then returns home and docks itself to charge up.

On phone app gives an ETA, access to cams and sensor values on the car.

At that point, nobody would really need to own a car - you could use any available one and pay similar to a cab, but only for the power used & wear of the car calculated by weight in car upon pickup/drop off - nobody needs to waste their life driving buses anything and it;d be more efficient as you could call a car a block away to get you rather than something running constantly on a set schedule.

Buses will still likely be cheaper to ride, and roads have finite capacity which is why buses or any mass transport is ideal from an efficiency perspective.

One day someone will write the first object recognition algorithms in live video feed, he / she will put it on an ARM chip and become richer than Bill Gates

The only think blocking self-driving cars, having to type a password when you use a computer, having to use a key to enter your house, and a million other things. they are all because the computer does not know how to recognize you the way you recognize others.

I will trust a computer driving, but not the machine above.

I'd never own one myself. I like driving FAR to much, but I would certainly love for all the bad drivers to get one of these. I'd imagine accidents would substantially reduce.

That's the same how Nokia's True/Here/Earthmine cars see the world around too. Cameras + LIDAR scanning the area around and a variety of sensors around the vehicle. There was a Guardian or Atlantic or was it Register, feature some time ago where they showed the data being collected in real time.

TrekRich said,
In Nevada and California, i take it the drive still has to be aware and have a foot over the brake so to speak?

Yes, there is a driver in the vehicle in case anything goes wrong during testing. So far so good!

They will never take off, the problem is liability. If something bad happens who is at fault? The programmer that wrote the software? The director of the company? Will you sign a waiver that in the event of the car doing something stupid you are responsible, even if you was not in control of the car at the time it happened. And do we really want loads of different makes of self controlled cars driving around? Would it not be better to have 1 and they all talk to each other, that would make it even safer.

I would love to have one, it would be awesome to get an extra hours sleep in when i was going to work!

They are still trying to determine fault. But so far Nevada and California have legalized them and with googles fleet of 8 various modified vehicles they have 800,000 miles on them without a single accident.
Also we do have cars now that can self parallel park and will auto break for you. Google estimates it's only 5 years away from commercial viability.

archer75 said,
they have 800,000 miles on them without a single accident

Which is pretty amazing, considering the average American has an accident roughly every 165,000 miles.

And when this is released to the public you'll see entire industries laid off over night. No more taxi drivers! No more shuttles or bus drivers. Technology is great but it's also making it so we can do far more with far less people.

mnl1121 said,
These cars so far still need a driver behind the wheel. So far public transit workers' jobs are not at risk.

Yes, of course. Only for testing. But when they are released....

mnl1121 said,
These cars so far still need a driver behind the wheel. So far public transit workers' jobs are not at risk.

It wouldn't be too far-fetched for a taxi service to require you to have a driver's license. Even if you never actually drive the vehicle, you'd be able to just in case.

But once self-driving cars become mainstream and establish a good record of safety, then the need of a driver will likely go away - as well as the need for taxi drivers. Maybe even bus drivers.

The main point of taxi's is for those on vacation, or can't afford a car. For example, in Las Vegas, there is a whole bunch of taxis, because they are needed for those that travel there. Subways are also for those that can't afford a car for the most part, they won't go away.

Also, if you think 'Yea, well what about the taxi companies etc. just getting these systems built in?' Well, tell me how exactly the car will pick up a gas nozzle, punch in the information, hand it the money, and then get the gas? You need people for that.

Kaantian said,
Also, if you think 'Yea, well what about the taxi companies etc. just getting these systems built in?' Well, tell me how exactly the car will pick up a gas nozzle, punch in the information, hand it the money, and then get the gas? You need people for that.

When the self-driving taxi calculates that it needs to re-fuel, it drives to the taxi servicing station. Smaller taxi companies might be able to work out deals with local gas stations to have someone re-fuel them whenever one shows up.

Come to think of it, won't it be awesome to pass cars on the road that have no people in them at all?

Kaantian said,

Also, if you think 'Yea, well what about the taxi companies etc. just getting these systems built in?' Well, tell me how exactly the car will pick up a gas nozzle, punch in the information, hand it the money, and then get the gas? You need people for that.

There are automated gas stations in the US. Robot and camera to find the gas tank, open it and insert the nozzle. Sensors at the station could be set to read the vehicle ID and charge appropriately.

Many people dont realize that technology is evolving very fast and petroleum is going to end sooner or later. This cars probably will not use gas at all, they can go to parking spots with a simple and safe electric charging mechanism... hey if a roomba vacuum cleaner (a toy) can do that, why not an advanced-datamining-V.I. car? XD
http://youtu.be/uilrMeHYO18?t=52s

WinRT said,
Many people dont realize that technology is evolving very fast and petroleum is going to end sooner or later. This cars probably will not use gas at all, they can go to parking spots with a simple and safe electric charging mechanism... hey if a roomba vacuum cleaner (a toy) can do that, why not an advanced-datamining-V.I. car? XD
http://youtu.be/uilrMeHYO18?t=52s

The technology google is testing is on existing vehicles. Most any drive by wire vehicle can be modified to work.

Ah the self driving car... something Google gets all the attention for, yet places like Carnegie Mellon had this a very long time ago, and no one seemed to care... but when it's Google.. .OMG LOOK AT THIS NEW INVENTION!

Maybe its because Carnegie Mellon did a terrible job getting the word out? Or maybe they purposefully kept it under wraps. Do you know how successful they were?

mnl1121 said,
Maybe its because Carnegie Mellon did a terrible job getting the word out? Or maybe they purposefully kept it under wraps. Do you know how successful they were?

Carnegie Mellon is a major tech university... they spread the word like crazy when they had self driving cars, they had major car makers on their side... GM, Ford, etc all worked along side with them..... most of the tech Google is spouting as their own came from CMU's research... how successful where they? they where very successful, their device worked many years ago..... http://varma.ece.cmu.edu/GM-CMU-AD-CRL/Videos.shtml

CMU is way ahead of google in terms of research, and they came up with almost all the protocols that Google is now using... like the stopples intersection protocol, no more need for stop lights or stop signs...

neufuse said,

Carnegie Mellon is a major tech university... they spread the word like crazy when they had self driving cars

They didn't do a good enough job then. I never heard of it.

nub said,

They didn't do a good enough job then. I never heard of it.


Really? I'm from Holland and I've heard of this research.

This stuff is years old, but Google now does it and Google is the innovative one.....
While I'm sure they just do it cause they want to know what you do when you're not using the internet, and force you to use the internet so they can track you

Maybe if all the cars are connected like in air traffic control, via some secure encrypted channel, it can prevent jams and accidents since each car is aware of every other cars location within proximity at all times so they all drive in perfect sync.

I think a better system would be for each other to be connected to those in a small proximity, say half a mile or a mile. Sort of like an ad-hoc network. Less of a security risk and if the central tower goes down, all vehicles can still operate. I agree though, each should communicate with each other to reduce accidents even further.

Pft reduce the security risk? More like increase it, adhoc networks are incredibly easy to hack on!! With no integrity server there is absolutely NOTHING stopping you from sending false values and coordinates, you could create traffic jams, kill pedestrians, cause care crashes manipulate the road so you have right of passage. Terrorism, anarchy at the next level. We shouldn't look at the short term benefits, often computers can do more harm than good.

While being able to take over control at any moment will likely be necessary at first to build trust, once the trust is there, taking away the control of the driver is a huge bonus. You could have a drunk driver going home at 200mph, among 200mph traffic, and it would be completely safe because cars would have no problems reacting to anything at that speed. Self-driving cars would eliminate traffic jams (or at least massively reduce them), and make driving safe at practically any speed. Once the problems with snow are worked out, the cars could be made smart enough to know a safe speed to travel on snowy roads as well, by doing some math and calculating the coefficient of friction, and the distance to keep between other cars, as opposed to a person who basically guesses how fast he can safely go on a snowy road, while also trying to go faster because he just wants to get home.

You forget that people won't feel comfortable driving an automatic car. I wont!
A train is something else, and even those aren't automated here for good reason! Even though they easily can do it, and can even do it save... Except few people will use them then. The idea of a driverless vehicle going about at speeds that can instantly kill you is not comfortable for most.

And you'll always have the people driving manual cars, and no matter how good you make these automatic cars, they can never respond to moronic drivers as good as you can.

I am sure a lot of problems will go away once we can develop a sensible wireless standard for things like traffic lights that work over a short distance and is read only (much like GPS). That way the cars can read certain things in a way that is guaranteed and not left up to its interpretation. I think things like traffic lights and lanes shouldn't be left up to interpretation.

But the work is all early stage and looking good.

The signals and signs themselves may even go away. Fully automated traffic should have cars that can communicate with other automated cars and navigate at maximum efficiency without having to worry about collisions or possibly even waiting. It'll be a very "matrixy"-like feeling to have automated cars magically dodge each other at full speed through intersections without even a hesitation. Though, I sure wouldn't want to be the pedestrian walking through that kind of system

The signals will never go away entirely because cars need to exist where people are. Unless we get to a point where a car can drive you right into your cubicle at work...

LogicalApex said,
The signals will never go away entirely because cars need to exist where people are. Unless we get to a point where a car can drive you right into your cubicle at work...

The traffic signals can go away, but signals for pedestrian crossings won't.

rfirth said,

The traffic signals can go away, but signals for pedestrian crossings won't.


Eventually yes, but by that time, we'll probably have Futurama like tube-transports and flying cars anyways.

I think this is absolutely amazing technology and frankly I couldn't care less who was making it.. though as someone who likes Google stuff and consumes Google services then I'm quite happy it's them.

I can't wait to have my first go in a computer driven car. The prospect of being able to just program in a destination and then read a newspaper, drink a coffee, or otherwise just switch off is hugely appealing. And I say this as a petrolhead / car enthusiast!

I agree cant wait to try it, travelling long distance just stick in a target and sit back and relax

need to be able to take over as manual through when you fancy a blast lol

Haggis said,
I agree cant wait to try it, travelling long distance just stick in a target and sit back and relax

need to be able to take over as manual through when you fancy a blast lol


Many cars have these kinda cruise controls nowadays though. Except no car has automatic steering... for a good reason.

Computers cant, yet, handle every situation. There's way to much variables.

Agreed.
The idea of (eventually) safer, easier commuting is something that appeals to me. Once the tech is ironed out, and no government is going to allow it on to public roads until it is, it'd be nice to cruise down the road, checking out the sites, without the worry that some boy racer is going to come round the corner and wipe you out.

Having lost a loved one for this very reason, i think you can all understand why any bump in safety is something i'll very pleased with.

We've certainly got a long way to go but ROLL ON!

DarkNet said,
Why does it matter to you?

What's with the ******* retort? He merely asked a question out of curiosity.

Yazoo said,
wasn't BMW doing this before Google? could be wrong

Daimler has been doing this/researching sicne the 80s. I am not sure about BMW.

FunkyMike said,

Daimler has been doing this/researching sicne the 80s. I am not sure about BMW.


BMW has, Audi has, Daimler-Chrystler has, General Motors has...
Few haven't.

Better yet, Mercedes has this crap except computer steering build in their S classes for years.

Shadowzz said,

BMW has, Audi has, Daimler-Chrystler has, General Motors has...
Few haven't.

Better yet, Mercedes has this crap except computer steering build in their S classes for years.

Am pretty sure computer steering is already in the new S Class ; ). (changing lanes etc)

ccoltmanm said,

Dark net is a troll a troll a troll


Yet no one can tell me why this information is important. You are so angry. Relaxing boy.

Much rather a computer driving than a human, computers don't care about their makeup, coffee, newspaper, texts, etc. etc. etc. They'll just drive.

I wish someone besides Google was making it though. :-\

This sort of research has been going on for years, even before Google, but Google has more money and is high profiled.

ingramator said,
I don't like the idea of computer driving cars... We can't even begin to imagine the cyber security problems of tomorrow.

Just make sure your car computer is not tweeting or updating facebook statuses while driving and you will be fine One a serious note, just making sure the control systems of the car is not connected to the Internet while the car is being operated will safeguard it from almost all hacking.

ingramator said,
I don't like the idea of computer driving cars... We can't even begin to imagine the cyber security problems of tomorrow.

Agreed. I would be very uneasy...

Though with the idiots driving now, I'm not sure which is really worse. lol

ingramator said,
I don't like the idea of computer driving cars... We can't even begin to imagine the cyber security problems of tomorrow.

Cyber security depends on being connected to the internet. No internet = no issue.

Xilo said,

Cyber security depends on being connected to the internet. No internet = no issue.

This is google, it will probably be internet only

morden said,

who wants a data mining company in their own garage?

I see. So you think if Microsoft or Apple were successful at it they would pass? Why is data mining a bad thing? If they know me and my habits what is wrong with that I ask?

Uplift said,

This is google, it will probably be internet only

Maybe. Will be helpful to get map updates/software updates and such. However, I am betting it would also be able to operate offline.

DarkNet said,

I see. So you think if Microsoft or Apple were successful at it they would pass? Why is data mining a bad thing? If they know me and my habits what is wrong with that I ask?


Don't you know the age old saying "Knowledge is power".
I for one don't like the idea that Google knows more about people, then their own mothers do.
There's very good reason that companies shouldn't know you inside out. And if you can't see why, then just enjoy surrendering your privacy

There is no doubt if this does become a trend that these systems will be networked, no doubt at all. People want internet connection and that connection will be tied into the OS which will be tied into the car. It will be an absoulte field day for criminals.

Shadowzz said,

Don't you know the age old saying "Knowledge is power".
I for one don't like the idea that Google knows more about people, then their own mothers do.
There's very good reason that companies shouldn't know you inside out. And if you can't see why, then just enjoy surrendering your privacy

That's what I figured. A clueless anti Google foil-hat wearing *****. That's All I needed to hear. ty

Shadowzz said,

Don't you know the age old saying "Knowledge is power".
I for one don't like the idea that Google knows more about people, then their own mothers do.
There's very good reason that companies shouldn't know you inside out. And if you can't see why, then just enjoy surrendering your privacy

So your reasoning is basically "because I don't like it".

M_Lyons10 said,

Agreed. I would be very uneasy...

Though with the idiots driving now, I'm not sure which is really worse. lol

Exactly what i was thinking.

At first i was like "Trusting computers to drive us! **** that!" but then i realised that so many of the deaths on our roads are down to lack of driving skill or people driving like idiots, that even if one life a year is saved due to self driving cars, that's a win.

If we're happy for planes to be pretty much computer controlled, i think it's time to relax and see what the future of car commuting can be.