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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/28/2014 (11 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Remarkable automobile given sneak preview in California

Internet search engine giant Google has toyed with the idea of a self-driving car for some time now. Said automobile has since been previewed in California. Google has been test-driving Lexus SUVs retrofitted with self-driving technology over the past several years.

The vehicle lacks a certain aerodynamic design. It's described as 'a golf cart wearing a silly hat.' Intended to be disarming, the car is designed to encourage acceptance of self-driving technology.

The vehicle lacks a certain aerodynamic design. It's described as "a golf cart wearing a silly hat." Intended to be disarming, the car is designed to encourage acceptance of self-driving technology.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/28/2014 (11 months ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Google, driver-less, car, Google Maps


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Boasting a simple design, the car has two seats, two buttons and a screen that displays the route. Laser and radar sensors do all the work, making a brake pedal, steering wheel and accelerator pedal unnecessary.

The vehicle lacks a certain aerodynamic design. It's described as "a golf cart wearing a silly hat." Intended to be disarming, the car is designed to encourage acceptance of self-driving technology.

Starvation never takes a vacation --

The vehicles will require Google's road maps to get around. The driver will be able to call the car using a smartphone application. The car will then automatically drive - sans driver, to the destination selected on the app. The car's only manual controls are a stop/go button and an emergency button.

The cars won't work for extended trips. They only have a range of about 100 miles, with a motor roughly equivalent to that of a Fiat 500e.

Christopher Urmson, director of Google's self-driving project, gave some impressions of what is was like to work on the vehicle on the company's blog:

"It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, 'What should be different about this kind of vehicle?'

"We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections.

"And we've capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 miles per hour. On the inside, we've designed for learning, not luxury, so we're light on creature comforts, but we'll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers' belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route - and that's about it ."

Urmson says his research team tested the vehicles on thousands of miles on the streets on Mountain View, California. "A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area.

"We've improved our software so it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously-pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn. A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can't - and it never gets tired or distracted."

As another safety measure, in order to reduce the risk of injuring pedestrians in case of a crash, the front of the car will be made of a foam-like material and the windshield will be made of plastic instead of glass.

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