Press Association Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval takes a spin in a driverless car on July 20, 2011 in Carson City, Nev. Sandoval describes the experience as "amazing." The governor took the test run with Google engineer and DMV Director Bruce Breslow.
Applied for on May 11, 2011 but only publicly disclosed recently, the US patent for the driverless cars covers the devices and methods related to the new technology.
"Transitioning may include stopping a vehicle on a predefined landing strip and detecting a reference indicator. Based on the reference indicator, the vehicle may be able to know its exact position. Additionally, the vehicle may use the reference indictor to obtain an autonomous vehicle instruction via a URL. After the vehicle knows its precise location and has an autonomous vehicle instruction, it can operate in autonomous mode," stated Google in the patent they filed.
The "Google Driverless Car" project is currently being led by Sebastian Thrun, a Google engineer and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory who co-invented Google Street View.
Back in 2005, Thrun's team at Stanford (consisting of fifteen Google engineers) had won the DARPA Grand Challenge for creating a robotic vehicle named "Stanley".
"Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use... Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to 'see' other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google's data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain," wrote Thrun on the Google blog.
In the future, the driverless car has the potential to save lives by preventing accidents on the road. Google has also stated that it will help lower energy consumption since more people can use it for public transportation and that it will give people more spare time to do other things.
"We've always been optimistic about technology's ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today. While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science," Thrun concluded.
Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval takes a spin in a driverless car on July 20, 2011 in Carson City, Nev. Sandoval describes the experience as "amazing." The governor took the test run with Google engineer and DMV Director Bruce Breslow.