The Google car uses artificial intelligence to drive itself

artificial intelligence drives google car, not hands on wheel

No hands are required for the Google car, a modified Toyota Prius that has logged thousands of miles without a driver. Image: CC paulhami/Flickr

The Google car is an artificially intelligent vehicle that drives itself. It’s actually an extensively modified Toyota Prius loaded with sensors and software that has logged thousands of miles with humans along for the ride. The Google car is just one of many Google projects outside its core business making headlines, such as the Google wind farm – -an eastern seaboard underwater wind power backbone announced Tuesday.

Will Google rule the road?

The Google car drives itself by processing information collected from various sensors with artificial-intelligence software programmed to imitate human driving decisions. The New York Times reports that seven Google test cars have driven 1,000 miles solo and more than 140,000 miles with occasional driver intervention. A Google car successfully drove itself down San Francisco’s Lombard Street, known as one of the steepest, most crooked streets in the world. Google engineers told the Times that a single accident happened when a Google car stopped at a traffic light was rear-ended.

Going along for the ride

In a statement about the Google car on the official Google blog, the company said its goal is to “help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.” The Google car uses video cameras, radar sensors, a GPS receiver, inertial motion sensor and a laser range finder spinning on the roof to position itself in traffic. A Times reporter went on a test drive from Google’s campus. The car effortlessly merged into speeding traffic on Highway 101 through Silicon Valley. Driving speed limits entered into its database, the Google car left the freeway and navigated through the city of Mountain View while a “pleasant voice” made announcements about approaching crosswalks and turns.

The Google wind farm, Google Health and much more

Google’s expanding reach was evident Tuesday as the company made headlines for an investment in a $5 billion, 350-mile long underwater power line off the Atlantic coast that will connect wind farms. The Financial Times wrote about the “Google Price Index” as “a daily measure of inflation that could one day provide an alternative to official statistics.” Google Health is a project to digitize medical records. According to the Washington Post, Google will continue to use its vast resources to explore in new directions.

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