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Google driverless cars on the road

White Google Driverless SUV
White Google Driverless SUV
Mark Doliner via Flickr

Google is one of the leading technology innovators of our day, and the technological advances that come from Google's software and innovation are pushing the market to rapidly advance. Google has placed themselves in just about every evolving and breakthrough technology. From search engine optimization to smart wearable technology (Google Glasses) Google has made a name for itself in turning everyday products and communication into technological innovation. If you are even the slightest web/smartphone user, you know of Google Maps and Street-view. These are two of the leading innovations behind a whole new world of driving that Google is constructing.

A few years ago a project lead by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun at Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory began development and testing of an autonomous car. This car, dubbed the "Google car" has a built-in light radar system that integrates current surroundings in real time with Google Maps and Street View. This light radar technology allows the car to drive on it's own in areas mapped for usage by Google Maps. Motor Vehicle Devisions in states like California, Nevada, Florida, Michigan & Texas have approved testing on open streets for the driverless car. The Google Car has so-far not been found at fault for any of the incidents reported (only two).

Although this may seem like a huge step in the driving world, there is a lot that Google has to do before this becomes a commercial reality. As of now, Google does not have the technology to allow cars to drive beyond large city limits due to the large amount of mapping, recording and testing needed. The car can not park on its own yet which also proves to be a major drawback. So far, cars have to be pre approved to drive on a designated route that is known to be safe with minimal obstacles and surprises. The car is not currently capable of detecting major road improvements, traffic signal and rode rule changes in real time which proves that there, for now, is only a limited use for this smart car.

There are many drawbacks to the Google Light Radar Smart car technology, but then again it is only in the testing phase. There is sure to be major improvements in the next decade in driverless car technology that integrate real time processing of road rules and even smart traffic signal communication. Although we may not see these as a commercial option for a while, it's exciting to get a small glimpse of the future of driving and smart technology.