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Google driverless cars made for speed

Google’s driverless cars are said to be specifically designed to exceed speed limits of up to 10mph (16km/h). This was confirmed by Dmitri Dolgov, who is the project software engineer. He explained that if other vehicles around were breaking the speed limit, travelling slower could in fact be more dangerous – the Google car must accelerate to compensate. The Google driverless vehicle test models have largely tested on US roads. Driverless cars will be allowed on public UK roads in 2015.

During 2010, Google announced the driverless car and that the technology has been tested in modified cars that have been built by various manufacturers. These cars have been travelling over 300,000 miles on the road, mainly in California. During May, the US technology company stated that they would start constructing their own self-driven cars. These bubble-shaped cars can seat two people, electronically propelled, and to start, there will be a limit of 25mph (40km/h) thus making it safer.  

The January 2015 plans for driverless cars to be permitted on UK public roads were announced in July 2014 by the UK Government.   As well as this, ministers have requested that a review be conducted on the UK’s road regulations to specify guidelines. These guidelines will cover the necessity for self-driven vehicles to abide by traffic and safety laws, and will mean alterations to the Highway Code in England, Wales and Scotland.  On the 18th August, the White House stated that there should be technology built-in to the cars that would prevent collisions.  This will involve radio signals that will emit from the vehicles and allow them to ‘speak’ to one another, and thereby warn motorists of possible accidents.

There are many different interpretations when the term ‘driverless cars’ is used. Of course, things such as cruise control, automatic brakes, anti-lane drift and self-parking capabilities are nothing new to vehicles. However, the concept of a ‘driverless’ car mainly refers to the vehicle being in charge of the steering, acceleration, indicating and braking when travelling between two destinations, similar to how aeroplanes operate when on autopilot. The difference between the skies and the roads is that the roads are much busier; a variety of technology is being created to deal with this issue.

An innovative system that will prove to be extremely affective is Lidar (light detection and ranging), it measures how the lasers rebound off reflective surfaces to record data of millions of small parts encompassing the vehicle each second. This technology is already in use in the creation of online maps utilised by Google and Nokia. Additionally, software that creates 360-degree images using cameras which are attached to the vehicle is becoming very useful. This solution is known as ‘computer vision’ – it can detect things like pedestrians, cyclists, roadworks and various objects that could be in the way of the vehicle.

Autonomous cars can benefit from global positioning system (GPS) location information from satellites, radar, ultrasonic sensors when detecting objects in close range to the vehicle and additional sensors to precisely determine the vehicle’s orientation and wheel rotation – this assists in measuring the precise location. The discussion that is currently being debated is whether or not to permit cars, such as the prototype released by Google in May. Also, whether or not to remove the steering wheel and petals altogether and merely rely on the vehicle’s computer system.    

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