We’ve heard a lot about the autonomous cars and how in future we won’t need to ‘drive’ our cars. Although this may sound like something coming right out of a sci-fi movie, that future is here; the Google’s self-driving car. It is a part of Google’s Moonshot program and test runs are already being carried out. The market is very welcoming for autonomous cars and we can foresee Google taking it by storm. The car has a rotating casing on top of it known as ‘lidar’ that provides the car with vision so as to speak. The car has been made from lightweight polycarbonate making it efficient. The windscreen is made from a flexible thick plastic that bends when touched. The bonnet is soft foam that helps in minimizing the impact’s effect in case of an accident.
When it comes to navigating the roads; the car makes use of a combination of sensors that is comprised of radar sensors, lasers, GPS, video cameras and the most detailed 3D maps that have ever been compiled. Chris Urmson, 38 years old and leader of the self-driving car team talks about these maps and says; ‘The maps even show the height of the kerb. They are constantly being updated to show road works and other variables. Everything is designed to minimize injury in the event of an accident. Nothing can ever be 100 per cent accident-proof but we truly believe this vehicle can and will save lives.’
Google foresees a future where users will be able to call their cars via smartphone apps and have them pick the user up or drop them off at designated places. Urmson says; ‘The car will pick you up, take you where you want to go and then can go off and do errands like pick up your dry-cleaning, freeing you to do other things.’
The car comes with Hermes leather seats and is quite spacious now that there isn’t any steering wheel, pedal and all the unnecessary stuff. It does, however, has two buttons; green for Go and red for Stop. A flat-screen has been incorporated that displays the time, date, temperature and a computer generated image of what lies ahead on road. The top speed on this car is 25 Mph.
The car has different names at the Googleples; Firefly, Bubble, Bobble, Koala and Bert. Urmson pointed out that this particular model is the first incarnation and they are working on a more polished version which will have seat belts and side windows. Furthermore, new algorithms have been imparted to the car that help it predict how the traffic is going to react. When asked about the urge to drive manually, Urmson replied; ‘There will always be a place on the roads for manually driven cars. But in terms of the masses, we believe most people would rather use the time spent driving doing something more interesting.’