The much awaited patent from Google about the self-driving car has been published today. This talks about the driving control that shuttles between the self-driving car and the drivers.
The Google’s Self-Driving car, a project by GOOGLE X involves the technology which aids in developing autonomous cars and the software instigated is called “Google Chauffeur”. This is a clear concept which is currently being led by Google Engineer “Sabastian Thrun”, former Director of Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory along with Google Street View (technology providing panoramic views).
How does it really work? This question has made to evolve many assumptions whether the prototype is equipped with typical steering and pedals or not. Such questions have been answered by Google saying that the vehicles are equipped with removable steering wheels and pedals that allow safety to drivers while taking over driving when necessary and also they are eventually planning to remove these controls as their vehicles have actually been designed to operate without human interference. Looking into the technique involved, the arm could be pulled from the steering to initiate self-driving mode, wherein the system does a check whether it is ready to take control from the passenger. What if this technique doesn’t work? – Then the car doesn’t get a GPS lock and the passenger might see an alert of “NOT AVAILABLE” light on the dash, or else he would see a “READY” light so that he could take off the attachments from the wheel and pedals.
Now, the question arises if this above said technique is suitable in identifying an emergency situation. How far can a passenger rely on the self-driving car? Google has said that their prototype has been designed to drive without human interference but if the passenger notices that the car is not performing as safe as it should be, then the passenger can take over immediately and later their team would review such situations. This can be better explained as, if a passenger identifies any obstacle such as a garbage bin or a road construction which the computer has not identified then passenger may take over the driving. As the steering wheel is incorporated with touch sensitive apparatus which receives the information and identifies that the passenger would like to take control. This gives confidence to the passenger that he/she can take over driving at any moment.
It can be said that the eventuality of the plan works in both directions: the car identifying the drowsy passenger and taking over, and, the human taking over in an emergency situation with an audible alert, But a recent study by NHTSA says that it takes about 17seconds for the passenger to take over from the automatic system after getting an alert which is not said to be as quick, especially for the ones driving on high speed. Can technology really solve this problem? Are the audible alerts really helpful? Can we have a fully self-driving car? Have no chance but wait till 2020 for the GOOGLE to make these cars available to public.