Driverless car Stories August 21, 2014

Google’s autonomous car without steering wheel or pedals to get steering wheel & pedals …

When Google showed off its built-from-scratch self-driving car with no steering-wheel or pedals, the world’s press weren’t the only people watching: California’s DMV also had its eye on the vehicle.

A new rule taking effect in California from 16th September says that self-driving cars are only legal on public roads if a driver is able to take “immediate physical control,” reports the WSJ. That means that Google is going to have to make a couple of small adjustments to the cars: fitting that missing steering-wheel and pedals.

[Google] said it plans to comply with the California rule by building a small, temporary steering wheel and pedal system that drivers can use during testing.

“With these additions, our safety drivers can test the self-driving features, while having the ability to take control of the vehicle if necessary,” Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne said.

The company will initially be testing the fleet of 100 prototype vehicles on private roads.

Google had also wanted to test other types of autonomous vehicles, including motorcycles, but the DMV refused permission. California DMV official Bernard Soriano did, however, state that they are drafting rules that allow members of the public to operate driverless cars within a couple of years – and by that time, no steering-wheel or pedals will be required.

Only a handful of US states allow driverless cars on the road at present, but others are likely to follow California’s lead, and other countries likewise.

Driverless car Stories July 30, 2014

If you’d like to know what makes Google’s self-driving car tick, the company is hosting an interactive Hangout as part of its Maker Camp field trip program. The festivities start on Friday, August 1st at 11AM PT/2PM ET, but you can start asking your questions right now. In addition to a Q&A session with participants, Google will be discussing how its driverless car operates, as well as the project’s latest developments.

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Driverless car Stories June 9, 2014

The US isn’t the only country making preparations for self-driving cars, the UK is in the process of revamping its laws to allow driverless vehicles to cruise its roads. Science minister David Willetts recently told Mail Online that he has started talking with the Department for Transport to help British companies develop their own self-driving cars, with efforts currently underway in Oxford.

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Everyone can use an Echo Dot: Just $50!

Driverless car Stories August 23, 2013

google-driverless-car

Google Ventures’ $250M investment in Uber makes a lot more sense with some news reported by Jessica Lessin this morning. The site is reporting that Google is making its own driverless cars to be “robo taxis”:

Google Inc., which has been working on software to help major automakers build self-driving cars, also is quietly going around them by designing and developing a full-fledged self-driving car, according to people familiar with the matter.

While the Prius has been Google’s main guinea pig of the self-driving car efforts, it looks like Google would like to control the entire manufacturing experience for these cars. In addition, the company’s focus is geared towards driver-free taxi services rather than selling the cars direct to consumers.  expand full story

Driverless car Stories January 4, 2013

Toyota, Lexus, and Audi to show off their own Google-like self-driving cars at CES

While Google often uses Toyota vehicles in its fleet of self-driving cars, Toyota is planning to show off its own autonomous car technology next week at CES. As noted by The Wall Street Journal, Toyota yesterday posted a short five-second clip of its advanced active safety research vehicle, a Lexus LS 600h, equipped with advanced cameras and sensors. Toyota confirmed to the WSJ that its system is being developed independently from Google. Audi is also said to have self-driving capabilities ready to demonstrate at CES in Las Vegas next week. We’ll be on hand with live coverage from Las Vegas, and we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for any vehicles driving around by themselves.

Toyota’s prototype vehicle is a Lexus LS 600h fitted with radar and camera equipment that can detect other vehicles, road lane lines and traffic signals, giving the vehicle the ability to navigate streets without a driver. It also includes what appears to be the same roof-mounted laser that Google Inc. has been using on its autonomous research cars. Google began testing self-driving cars in 2009.

An Audi official also said the luxury-car company will be demonstrating autonomous vehicle capabilities at the Las Vegas show, including a feature that allows a car to find a parking space and park itself without a driver behind the wheel.

Earlier this year, Cadillac also showed off its own “Super Cruise” self-driving car technology.

Driverless car Stories October 12, 2012

The Wall Street Journal just published a lengthy report detailing how Google convinced Nevada state assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, as well as other states’ transportation committees, to introduce legislation that would help legalize its driverless cars for streets.

“This will save taxpayers countless millions of dollars and revolutionize driving as we know it. No more being distracted, no more accidents, and not another DUI attorney again.”

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company persuaded lawmakers, according to The Wall Street Journal, with “demonstrations and rides in its exotic cars,” and it subsequently earned “legislative wins” in Nevada, California, and Florida. There are even bills pending before legislators in Hawaii, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and the District of Columbia:

In the process, the Mountain View, Calif., company is building its credentials as an astute political operator. Google has been “pretty savvy” at navigating state capitols, said Frank Douma, a transportation-policy author and associate director at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. With its self-driving cars, Google “knew what they were doing by moving forward in Nevada” before approaching bigger states, he said. “If you blow it in the first state, you’ve really got problems.”

Success at legalizing self-driving car technology has broader implications for Google. Skills learned from lobbying state lawmakers could aid other endeavors that will require local policy-making, including the potential expansion of its Google Fiber Internet and TV service into markets dominated by cable companies.

Google spent roughly $9 million during the first and second quarters of 2012 lobbying in Washington and coaxing lawmakers and U.S. Department of Transportation officials, but Google did not disclose how much went toward lobbying state officials.

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