It seems more like a trope from Science Fiction than a viable invention for the modern commuter. Nevertheless, it seems like Herbie and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang have some real-life competition. Google is developing technology that would allow cars to be autopilot.


Saving Young Lives


In this incredible TED Talk, Sebastian Thrun, the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab explains his motivation for designing driverless vehicles; Thrun tells his audience that, “As a boy, I loved cars. And at 18, I lost my best friend to a car accident… and then I decided I’d dedicate my life to saving one million people each year.”


Thrun helped Google create the first driverless car, and the video he presents along with his speech is nothing short of astounding. His driverless vehicle effortlessly traverses mountain roads, busy city streets, and an obstacle course that would challenge even a seasoned driver.


Some of the Big Contenders:


Let’s take a look at some of the largest players in race for providing the public with ubiquitous, self-driving vehicles.


Google – Attempting to Redesign Transportation


The company’s self-driving vehicle operates by utilizing laser sensor technology to navigate both in town and across country. However, their plans include more than just “domestic” use. Google wants to turn the self-driving vehicles into modern cabs; The company’s Google Chauffeur cars come equipped with a whopping $150,000 worth of equipment!


The automated transportation units would sync with an app that requests the service via smartphone. The program has sustainability measures. For example, the Google Chauffeur vehicles would run entirely on electricity and include safety precautions such as special foam bumpers. The cars might be good news for consumers, but a challenge for taxi and Uber drivers that depend on the demand of their services.


Standford’s Design Lab and Volkswagen’s Shelly


As mentioned above, Thrun and the rest of his team have designed an Audi TTS designed for autonomous high speed functionality. These vehicles can reach up to 100 mph and have been employed on racetrack courses.


The Future of Your Daily Commute: How Would It Work?


Lasers mounted on the roof of the car enable the vehicles to navigate by way of a detailed 3D map of the environment. The cars computer reads this information and synthesizes the data, resulting in a high-resolution map that helps to dictate the vehicle’s movements.


The Social Benefits


Self-driving cars would prevent drunk-driving accidents, help alleviate oil dependency and benefit the environment. Additionally, the technology would provide transportation for the visually or physically impaired, and give drivers extra time to multi-task during their morning commute. Although consumers cannot expect to see this kind of technology in the near future, game-changing engineers are working hard to perfect the models. Chris Urmson, head of the Google initiative, hopes to put the finishing touches on the designs in the next 5 years.


So what do you think? Would you invest in a self-driving vehicle? Leave your comments in the section below!