Google Inc. and Tesla Motors Inc are on the forefront of the self-driving car world. The NHTSA says it might need to draw up new laws for self-driving cars. Google wants to win no matter how new laws affect self-driving cars. News has it that it has filed a new patent application that allows for an instant switch between self-driving mode and manual control for self-driving cars.
Google is far ahead of its rivals in this self-driving car space. The firm’s self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs and those cute Panda-like cars are already making their ways round its Mountain View campus. The firm says its self-driving cars are logging an average of 10,000 autonomous miles per week on public streets and that they have logged 1,158,818 miles on autonomous mode since the project started in 2009.
Google files for patent
Chris Urmson, Program leader for the Google Inc self-driving car program believes that building self-driving cars from the ground is the way to go. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk believes that making gradual upgrades to driver-assistance systems is the smartest way to build driverless cars. However, Google’s new patent will reduce the fears about the inherent safety of allowing computers to drive cars.
The new patent is known as an “arm the chauffer” feature among the team building Google’s self-driving car. The feature is an arm on the steering column that allows you activate manual controls to take over from the computer in a seamless switch. The best part is that the feature also allows the computer to yield control to the human driver if the steering wheel or pedals are touched suddenly with a degree of force.
The patent filing also shows that the feature allows the on-board computer share info about its degree of control with humans. For instance, the computer can alert the humans if it has “determined that it may maneuver the vehicle safely to a destination”. The computer can also convey info about whether “it is ready to take control of the car, or is currently controlling the vehicle.
Best Self-Driving Safety Records
Google also has the best safety records (there’s really no data from rivals) as it noted “in the six years of our project, we’ve been involved in 16 minor accidents during more than 2 million miles of autonomous and manual driving combined. Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident.” there are still fears about the degree of safety that can be expected behind the wheels because of the complex dynamics of city driving.