Google’s Autonomous Vehicles

Google's  Autonomous Vehicles

Google’s driverless car

James Addie, Staff Writer

In early September, Google, along with other major car producers such as Audi, Mercedes Benz, and Volkswagen, were granted permits to test self-driving cars in California. Google is in possession of 25 permits, primarily consisting of Lexus SUVs. Although these vehicles are primarily just test vehicles, this is a major advancement in the driverless car industry.

It seems like a lot of technology would be needed to build cars that have the ability to drive themselves while easily navigating through major cities, construction sites, and avoiding people. Autonomous cars actually don’t require too much additional technology for them to work, as multiple vehicles on the road today already contain the majority of these features. Cruise control has been around for over 10 years, which allows the driver to release the gas pedal, as the car maintains a constant speed. Additionally, Mercedes Benz has used its new Pre-Safe technology which will sense stationary cars or objects in front of the car and warn the driver; if no response is given, the car will apply the brakes itself. Other than these preexisting features, the autonomous car just needs sensors to visualize the road and drive itself.

According to, Google has revealed that their technology involves eight different sensors and a camera in the windshield, that can detect possible obstacles in the future, such as other cars or pedestrians. Additionally, these sensors can detect hand signals, like if a bicyclist extends an arm. The autonomous car will detect this, and slow down or give extra space if necessary.

The big question that technologists and car enthusiasts are asking is, “Is this really safe?” Google has announced that throughout approximately 800,000 miles recorded as of September 18, there has only been one accident on a closed track. This accident, however, was caused by human error, not the autonomous technology itself.

The excitement of having a car that will drive itself and will cut the amount of vehicular accidents caused by human error will have to wait. Autonomous cars are just a test, and the date of availability is still undecided. According to, GM has claimed that automobiles may not have this feature until 2025. Other car companies, such as Cadillac, claim that by 2017 some of their high-end vehicles will have majority of this technology, but they will not be 100 percent driverless.  Car enthusiasts and technology gurus will have to just wait and see.