Much is talking about the arrival and future implementation of the autonomous car.
It all started back in 2005, when Google gave notoriety to this fact winning with a team of 15 engineers the DARPA Grand Challenge which is organized by the United States Department of Defense, thanks to a project that has advanced and developed until reach the Google Self – Driving Car Project or simply Google Car.
Of course , with this unexpected outcome, the legislation of any country (in this case specifically US and Nevada) was caught in underclothes, and with the big G pushing for the state to allow the establishment of laws for driverless cars, it had no choice but to get down to work and legislate something that seemed out of any science fiction movie still enough of a distant future. They were wrong, the future was already here, and in May 2012, the Motor Vehicles Nevada Department issued the first license for an autonomous car: a Toyota Prius modified with Google driverless experimental technology.
Besides the Prius, Google also uses different Audi TT and Lexus RX450h, although since 2014, Google has also developed its own personalized autonomous vehicle, created by Roush Enterprises and using equipment Bosch, ZF Lenksysteme, LG and Continental. In addition to contact manufacturers like General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. It’s not just Google, now half the world is involved and progress is unstoppable.
Google’s autonomous cars carry about $150,000 in equipment, including a $70,000 LIDAR system for determining the distance from a laser emitter to an object or using a pulsed laser beam surface. These systems allows the vehicle to generate a tremendously detailed 3D map of the environment. The car then take these generated maps and combined with high-resolution maps of the world (including their own as Google Hearth, Maps and StreetView) to generate different types of data models that allow driving for themselves.
Obviously there are limitations as may encounter temporary signs barely visible, a guard who makes signs, roads in disrepair, potholes, a simple plastic bag takes as an obstacle to dodge or weather conditions to make the system not know “prudent extra” that makes it more slow. That is why Google should also teach their cars to “think ” and ” interpret “ and to discern as a human when a situation requires logic or abstract interpretation. However, Google says that these problems will be corrected before 2020.
Anyway , Google has already come in tests with its fleet of vehicles in autonomous mode and until March 2016, a total of 2,411,142 kilometers with a balance of only 14 accidents from July 2015, or rather near misses accidents, and all but one through no fault of Google as they were being driven manually or the driver of the other vehicle was at fault. One in which a Lexus RX345h touched a city bus last February 14, 2016 and was taken as a learning experience: “From now, our cars understand more deeply that buses are less likely to give way other types of vehicles.”
However, not only the technological implications or development involving autonomous driving, but the moral and philosophical content also carries with this, since according to a letter from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ( NHTSA ) referred to Chris Urmson, project director of Google´s autonomous vehicle “the driver of an autonomous vehicle is the computer and software designed for it”, statement reinforces the intention of eliminating pedals, steering wheel and any type of control that would allow a passenger to interfere driving, something that Google is indeed chasing since the creation of Google car, as long as the company is only responsible for the safety of the vehicle if and only if she is driving it. Without human interference. And this requires removing even the option to do so.
One of the goals that emerges from all this is clear and more laudable: to pursue zero accidents and zero victims, which already deserves all this investment and research. The rationalization of transport, safety and consumer, is certainly commendable and desirable. But wait, it also implies zero violations and fines. A utopian close at hand, but with a slight side setback world: no fines, no income. And with such machinery raise cash at a rate of four tickets per minute, -only in Madrid and according to the latest report of the AEA-, making a total of 2,099,475 reports that total economic value of 206,714,400 euros it would be a considerable loss of income.
But not to worry. If lower revenue from traffic violations and everyday we consume less petroleum because proliferate hybrids, electric and other … we invent a sun tax! (What good does this sound?). Perhaps Spain is among the countries that hinder innovation with China, India, Nigeria, Russia and Indonesia. But looking for alternatives to fill the coffers tax we really know how. Illinois, for example, aims to tax the car by distance, but that it doesn´t beats us because the DGT already had this idea, the last time in 2011, with which Pere Navarro sought to impose a levy of between 10 and 15 cents per kilometer with which wanted to raise 25,000 million euros extra per year in Spain. Problem solved.
There are exciting changes we are experiencing and that await us just around the corner in relation to the automotive world. The autonomous vehicle, 3D printing in cars and presumable goodbye to the assembly as we know today from the Ford Model T; or la Tesla Mr. Elon Musk with his curious way to finance a new model as Model 3, with which has been achieved by almost 300,000 crowdfounding reserves at the rate of $ 1,000 each, are only some of these changes.
It is clear that the way we know cars is changing precipitously and in some cases final. Sergey Brin, one of the founders of Google is very excited in this regard:
“The reason why I’m so excited about these prototypes and autonomous vehicle project in general is that we have the ability to change the world around us”
However, for those who like stepping pedals, shift gears and turn flyers while a V8 roar heard impregnated smell of gasoline and burned tires, there is something not just calm down and aseptic in this new landscape.
Pics: Google Self-Driving Car Project and own prepared