Google’s self-driving car project is underway


Photo courtesy of Google.

In the future, the reality of self-driving cars zipping through the streets might just come true. Google promises that people will be able to travel safely, regardless of their age or eyesight. Google started its project in 2009, and now has driven one million miles with self-driving cars.

These cars have sensors designed in the car to detect objects from long distances, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and other cars. The software processes all this information to aid the car in safely navigating the roads without distracting the car with things like bumps on the road. The car also knows what street it is on and which lane it is in, and can use map and sensor information to pinpoint its location in the world.

In an interview with “The Tech Times,” civil liberties policy analyst Ryan Hagemann discussed the precautions of self-driving and regular cars driving alongside each other.

“The question isn’t a technological question,” Hagemann said. “It’s a regulatory policy question of how to incorporate vehicles on the roadways while we still have motor vehicles that are operating fully by people behind the wheel.”

At the moment, Google’s self-driving cars are out on the streets of Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. The company’s fleet includes modified Lexus SUVs and new prototype vehicles that are designed to be fully self-driving. Google is seeking to uncover situations that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle while on the road.

Junior Devin Dionne, feels that technology could be unreliable.

“I don’t think that self-driving cars will be an efficient means of transportation,” Dionne said. “Technology is also very unpredictable. You can’t look into an android’s mind and tell when it is going to malfunction or break.”

According to The Eno Center for Transportation, over 90% of crashes are caused by the driver. The Tech Times uses this statistic to argue that self driving cars could potentially reduce the rate of automobile-related deaths.

There are also concerns about hackers causing serious issues to self-driving cars. After a report surfaced that hackers were able to remotely disable a Jeep Grand Cherokee this month, Jeep announced a safety recall on 1.4 million vehicles. As a result of this incident, people worry that hackers will be able to disable the self-driving cars.

The project director for Google, Chris Urmson, indicates a possible release for self-driving cars from 2017 to 2020. According to an Autonomous Cars for IHS Automotive study released in 2014, the price for self-driving technology could initially be $7,000 to $10,000. This price is expected to drop to $5,000 in 2030 and $3,000 by 2035.

Freshman Susie Sun believes that people should be responsible for countering car crashes, rather than technology.

“Self-driving cars have lots of potential,” Sun said. “We still have a long way (safety wise) to go before they could be put into use.”