You got that right. The Driverless Car is a project by Google that involves developing technology for autonomous cars. The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first license for a self-driven car in May 2012. The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driverless technology. The system combines information gathered from Google Street View with artificial intelligence software that combines input from video cameras inside the car, a LIDAR (light detection and ranging similar in many ways to RADAR) sensor on top of the vehicle, radar sensors on the front of the vehicle and a position sensor attached to one of the rear wheels that helps locate the car’s position on the map.
Testing has been in progress for the past couple of years and Google expects that the increased accuracy of its automated driving system (it learns as it goes) could help reduce the number of traffic-related injuries and deaths, while using energy and space on roadways more efficiently. The project team has equipped a test fleet of at least eight vehicles, consisting of six Toyota Prius, an Audi TT, and a Lexus RX450h. Not a bad start. Unfortunately there are no immediate plans to commercially develop the system probably owing to law enforcement and insurance headaches, but all things considered, if Google gets the right amount of lobbying around it, this can become a reality fairly soon. At least in the US. The rest of the world may have to wait for a very very long time.
We can think of so many utilities of driverless cars. But we wonder how it would fare against the cabs and metro buses in New York city! Below is a video with Sebastian Thrun (Project Head) where he discusses the thought and technology behind the driverless car.