Google has been developing a self-driving car, and last year admitted to letting its staff test the vehicle on roads in California, including the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. They even crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. As you might imagine, this stirred up a bit of controversy.
But how does it work? The cars are basically robots, and are apparently safer than ones controlled by humans. They’re guided by a laser rangefinder, radar, and camera sensors. And recently, at a TED conference, Google gave the world a little glimpse into how these babies work:
The video shows the car squealing tires and taking sharp turns around a controlled track, which of course isn’t typical of regular driving, but Google wanted a chance to show its cars can drive aggressively if needed. But it does show some amazing reactions on the car’s behalf, things like avoiding a deer dashing in front of it, or how the vehicle behaves as it makes its way around a small hillside road and facing a large truck.
How does it work for the passenger? A destination is programmed with a GPS, a route is generated, and the rest is up to the car. Not so fun, of course, if you actually enjoy driving.
In the meantime, we’re still holding out for Terrafugia the flying car, scheduled to hit the market in 2012. Which would you prefer to drive?