Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

Google You Can Drive My Car

Written by Chaitanya Gudipaty | Posted: September 15, 2013 5:22 am

THE PROJECT

The Google Driverless Cars project is being led by Sebastian Thrun,who is also the co-inventor of Google’s Street View.

Begun in 2010,the self-driving systems are installed in Toyota Prius and Lexus RX for testing.

Robo-Taxi,a fleet of technology-driven chauffeur-less cars,is a Google X project. Google X is a secret facility for futuristic technologies such as Google Glass.

HOW IT WORKS

Lidar

On the car’s roof is a rotating sensor known as LIDAR (laser radar). It uses lasers to scan up to up to 200 feet in every direction to create a 3D image of the car’s surroundings.

Range finder

A range finder mounted on the rooftop is a Velodyne 64-beam laser which is an obstacle detector and navigator.

Position estimator

A sensor is located on the left rear-wheel that tracks the car’s movement and updates its location on a map constantly.

Four radars

Three in the front and one at the rear determine the distance and position of vehicles and objects in the vicinity.

Video camera

A camera is fitted to the car’s rear-view mirror that helps computers onboard detect,distinguish and recognise moving objects such as other cars,pedestrians and bikers. It also relays traffic-light information to computers.

WHAT IS LIDAR

The Lidar instrument fires rapid pulses of laser light at a surface,some of them at up to 150,000 pulses per second. A sensor on the instrument measures the amount of time each pulse takes to bounce back. Light moves at a constant speed so the LIDAR can calculate the distance between itself and the target with high accuracy. By repeating this in quick succession the instrument builds a complex ‘map’ of the surface it is measuring. Google’s robotic test cars have about $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 LIDAR system.

ON THE ROAD

* Testing of driverless cars on public roads has been approved in a few states of the US—Nevada,Florida and California.

* Nevada issued a licence to a Toyota Prius fitted with experimental technology in 2012.

* The Google project team has a test fleet of about 10 cars. While testing,the team puts a person with an unblemished driving record in the driver’s seat and a Google engineer in the passenger seat.

* The car drives at a system preset speed stored on maps and keeps distance from vehicles using sensors.

* As a back up,the system provides an override that allows a human driver to take control of the car by stepping on the brake or turning the wheel.

LICENCE TO DRIVE

In June 2011,Nevada passed a law concerning the operation of autonomous cars,which came into effect in March 2012. A Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driverless technology was given licence in May 2012. This was the first licence issued in the US for a self-driven car. These driverless cars have licence plates with a red background and an infinity symbol.

Carmakers,however,have been reluctant to partner with Google on autonomous cars,fearing it would give the tech giant a foothold in the auto industry. Frustrated by the lack of progress Google is understood to have begun designing its own cars. Reportedly,Google is continued…

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