One of the world’s most prominent and innovative organisations, Google, is creating a new wave in engineering with the development of self-driving cars. According to Google CEO, Sergey Brin, the car will be available within the next five years.
Brin has even mounted legislation that has now been passed by the Californian government to allow self-driving cars on the road by 2015. Google cars are now able to be test driven on the road, allowing Google to progress faster in making these vehicles available to the wider public sooner.
While Google hopes to create accident-free driving conditions, it will still be some time until we are seeing self-driving cars on Australian roads. Questions surround the developments like how safe it is. If these cars are virtually accident-proof, will we not need Australian car insurance? The developers of these self-driving cars seem to think they are the answer to a lot of our current driving issues.
The self-driving cars use cameras, radars and sensory equipment to navigate road conditions. They require no human interaction and can drive and park completely by themselves. They will even be able to drop you off at your destination and then find a parking space on their own.
Californian senator, Alex Padilla, has argued that self-driving cars would reduce the number of car accidents as the majority are due to human error. PCWorld quotes Brin as stating that each year one million people are killed worldwide in car accidents. He hopes that automated cars will reduce this statistic. There would be less issues with intoxicated or overly-tired drivers who lose concentration and cause accidents.
Self-driving cars would also increase vehicle access for those who are currently unable to drive, such as people with disabilities, the elderly and young people. And while this may be an increase in the number of cars on the road, the computer-controlled navigation systems would allow cars to drive closer together and therefore more cars would be able to move along the road.
California’s legislations changes came about through extensive lobbying by Google and allow self-driving cars to be used on the road, however they must have a human behind the wheel at all times. So far no accidents have occurred during Google’s testing of the cars.
According to CNN, when Brin was asked who would receive the fine if a self-driving Google car goes through a red light while being operated by the inbuilt computer, he responded with, “Self-driving cars do not run red lights.”
Google is continuing to work on ensuring all potential safety issues are covered as people have many concerns regarding what happens if the computer breaks down. According to PCWorld, Brin is confident these issues will be successfully answered as humans have managed to deal with similar concepts in the past, such as developing air flight.