Google 'Self-Driving' Car Now Into City Street Driving

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By Judith Aparri | April 30, 2014 4:24 PM EST

The recent chapter of Google's "self-driving" car is now busy mastering driving in the city street.

Cars coming out from hidden driveways, double-parked vehicles, jaywalkers and a lot more are in the city streets prompting a veteran driver to be more careful, and put all the fears of a new driver into real test.

We all want to live in a world where city centers are free of congestion and intersection where distracted drivers become really dangerous. That is why Google focuses its test over the past year on the self-driving car to master city street driving.

The self-driving car has logged thousands of miles on Google's hometown in Mountain View, Calif. Everyone knows city driving is much more complex than driving on a freeway, considering hundreds of objects moving in a small area.

The automobile's software has been improved a lot so it can detect distinct objects at the same time - buses, pedestrians, a stop sign by a crossing fellow, a cyclist who makes gesture that he is about to make a turn, and a lot more. The good news is the self-driving car could pay attention to all of those things much better than a human being, and take note that it never gets distracted and weary.

It turns out that a city street from a human eye is predictable. As different situations are encountered, the software models are built to what is expected. The self-driving car has logged almost 700,000 self-drive miles, and its goal of letting it drive fully without human intervention is coming to light.

Google had mapped the stop signs of the world so that the car's software can now read stop signs, including the one being held by school crossing guards.

Engineers taught the vehicle software to deal with cyclists to predict their behaviors based on the many encounters it had on city streets. Spokesman Courtney Hohne of Google said the vehicle plots its route accordingly and reacts if there is an unexpected thing happening.

Human drivers can take control of the self-drive vehicle in case the computer fails, or in some complicated situations that need sensors to be more sophisticated like turning right on red signal as well as driving in a fog or rain.

Having no driver is the goal and passengers can read, sleep, work or daydream while the vehicle drives itself.

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