Google like so many companies / organizations before them are trying to deliver us (The People) the Automatic Driver-less Car. The Concept is not a new one but the technology they are using is a neat one. Form the first days of someone daydreaming of the auto-car (Most Likely when driving a Vast Distance) to the Sci Fi Movies of Today there have been many concepts to adapt the automatic driving car, from sonar in the headlights to cameras mounted in the wheel-well of the car. The Sonar was a good idea due to the nature of our roads of then and now, cameras mounted in the wheel-wells were a joke due to them relying in the paint on the roads (Have you seen the Painted Roads of today after 2-3 years of traffic and repairs???).
Some technology have even gone out to install sensors in test cars with the test roads having guide blocks to aid the sensors in the cars, nice idea but think of all the roads you need to convert before unleashing such cars… When they started this feat so long ago GPS (Global Positioning System) was only an interesting concept, now with today’s advancement in GPS technology we can use it towards the auto driving car but not the use eternally. GPS is still not correct to use for control of moving vehicles let alone a group of moving vehicles so close at high rate of speeds. GPS can be used for designing a route to partake from start to destination as well as staying close to that route to adding the ability to check traffic along the way and maybe aid another route while in transit.
What is needed is a joint set of technologies synced and working together to aid the Automation Nature in the Robot Car with the Option to Override at any level for any Reason (Such Reasons could be: GPS Maps not Updated, Virus/Bug in the System, Fuses Blown for the Working System to Work, Ect.). Besides of tracking where you have been there has to be a method of staying a safe distance of obstacles around the vehicle of-course to avoid crashes. Also to keep up current speed and driving conditions in the area. You also must be very careful of other obstacles on the road of today (kids/people not watching out, pets/animals, other cars, bikes, scooters, road hazards, current driving conditions like snow or hurricanes, and the list goes on).
Back to Google and their Attempt at the Robot Car. They are of course using GPS as well as Cameras and I believe Radar around the car (if not then they should look into it, a camera can only see so much). The one thing I don’t like is their new prototypes do not come with an override or a steering wheel, until you cover ALL the other issues drivers face today (see above) I feel more secure with an override of some sort protecting me. But they seem to be on the right track, load into the car and push a button to say your destination and sit back/sleep or whatever until you reach your destination. Sounds a lot like the automated taxi’s they used in the movie “Total Recall” where are hero couldn’t go anywhere until he spoke a valid destination, but leave it up to the terminator to rip out the control system and take control himself (an override maybe?!?).
With robot cars in place I think the world of today would be a very safer place then it is today, no more DUI or stoned drivers to worry about hurting themselves or the innocent… They just have to say their destination and then pass out until reaching their home or whatever. Also I can recall driving to a destination (with one driver – me) what the plane would take 3 hrs to get there, it took 2 days – 1 stopover with a motel – 1 speeding ticket and a very sleepy irate driver (ME) to get there. With the robot car in place we could remove the expensive plane travel and take our automated car on the same trip with no drivers an hopefully no tickets and a very rested driver at the destination with no stopping, the car could automatically pick the best spots to get gas refills (or battery recharges if possible an EV car) and alert the passengers when needed. Yes I believe the robot car would be a great asset on the roads of today / tomorrow.