Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Google Self Driving Car

WAYMO


Waymo is an autonomous car development company spun out of Google's parent company, Alphabet Inc., in December 2016. It then took over the self-driving car project which Google had begun in 2009.Alphabet describes Waymo as "a self-driving tech company with a mission to make it safe and easy for people and things to move around". The new company, which will be headed by long-time automotive executive John Krafcik, is working towards making self-driving cars available to the public soon.From the company's 

It is the first truly driverless electric car prototype built by Google to test the next stage of its five-year-old self-driving car project. It looks like a cross between a Smart car and a Nissan Micra, with two seats and room enough for a small amount of luggage.
It is the first real physical incarnation of Google’s vision of what a self-driving car of the near future could be.

Where is it?

It operates in and around California, primarily around the Mountain View area where Google has its headquarters.

What does it do?

It ferries two people from one place to another without any user interaction. The car is summoned by a smartphone for pick up at the user’s location with the destination set. There is no steering wheel or manual control, simply a start button and a big red emergency stop button. In front of the passengers there is a small screen showing the weather, the current speed and a small countdown animation to launch.
Once the journey is done, the small screen displays a message to remind you to take your personal belongings – reinforcing that this is not aiming to be a substitute for your personal car at the moment, but more as a replacement for the taxi without the human driver.

What’s it like?


Very few people outside of Google have been allowed to ride in the new car. Most of the people depicted in Google’s promotional videos for the new car described the experience as “smooth” and “nothing that feels the least bit threatening”.
Kara Swisher and Liz Gannes from technology site Recode were one of the few independent test riders, who described the car as having “ample” room despite being small, likely due to the lack of the normal controls taking up space in the cabin, and "that this felt a lot like a theme park ride".

How does it work?


Powered by an electric motor with around a 100 mile range, the car uses a combination of sensors and software to locate itself in the real world combined with highly accurate digital maps. A GPS is used, just like the satellite navigation systems in most cars, to get a rough location of the car, at which point radar, lasers and cameras take over to monitor the world around the car, 360-degrees.
The software can recognise objects, people, cars, road marking, signs and traffic lights, obeying the rules of the road and allowing for multiple unpredictable hazards, including cyclists. It can even detect road works and safely navigate around them.

Why now?

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Google says it has gone as far as it can with the current customised vehicles and that a new platform is needed to take the project and technology to the next step and closer to a product people can actually use.
For instance, the previous generation Lexus vehicle had blind spots right up against the car where the sensors couldn’t see, something that needs to be eliminated in any vehicle open to the public.
The cars will first be used to test the software driving the car and push its capabilities. Google says at some point, when it deems its software safe, it will start putting real people into the cars beyond Google engineers. It will use the cars in a similar manner to the company’s Google Glass explorer programme, analysing how people use them and what works and what doesn’t.

Why do damn cute?

The car’s cute looks and friendly “face” were created intentionally to be “very Googley” according to its designers, to put both other road users and passengers at ease with the new technology. The shell is also designed to give the sensors the best view of the surroundings.

Why does it still look like a car on the inside?

The new car has two traditional car seats, primarily because in this iteration passengers have to be strapped in like they would in any other car to meet safety regulations, which means using standard seat belts. It also provides a more familiar passenger experience, which at this stage is likely important to aid adoption.

Is this something I’m going to be able to buy?

Google’s vision for this kind of self-driving car isn’t an exact replacement for the one parked outside your home. They are designed to be more like shared vehicles, possibly within a family or more likely as a replacement for taxis.
These cars are still very much in the early prototype stage still, and Google is still trying to figure out how to make a product out of the technology, how much it is likely to cost and when it will be available.
Apparently it will not have ads according to Google, although whether it’ll eventually have a small screen like some taxis now that plays video adverts, who knows. That will likely be up to the operator rather than Google.

Who will build it for me?

Google is proving the technology, but it is unlikely to make the cars for sale once that technology is ready for the mass market. It has said in the past that it is actively seeking car manufacturing partners, which means we could see a Toyota, Ford or Fiat-made Google car in the future, but that is all very much still up in the air.

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