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Google targets car safety

11 Oct 2010

Google isn't just after the results of what you searched for on the web or how you watch TV, it also wants to make things safer on the road. And it's using its massive arsenal of data centres to help achieve that. 

“Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology. And one of the big problems we’re working on today is car safety and efficiency,” wrote Sebastian Thrun, Distinguished Software Engineer in a blog post.

He says that one of the company’s goals is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use. And with that in mind, it’s developed technology for cars that can drive themselves.

“Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard,” continued Thrun. “All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.”

The automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps to navigate the road.

“This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain,” Thrun added.

Quoting figures from the World Health Organisation, Google says that more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents.

“We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half. We’re also confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new ‘highway trains of tomorrow’,” Thrun said.

You can read the full post here.

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