Google’s Self Driving Car

by Nick Wright

We dream about technology that will make life easier (some would say lazier), but there’s also tech such as a powered exoskeleton which recently allowed a woman paralysed from the hips down for more than 20 years following a skiing accident, to walk again.

Medical applications of things such as the exoskeleton is helping disabled people literally take the first step towards independence and freedom that would have been impossible. The manufacturers of the suit – Ekso Bionics – have already used a version of the technolog, the Human Universal Load Carrier, a pair of legs which lets the wearer to effortlessly carry up to 91kg over rough terrain.

What about more mundane tasks like driving to the shops but rather than you controlling the car, you simply telling the car where you want to go?

Brave New World, a recent series hosted by Professor Stephen Hawking, explored some cutting edge technology that scientists think will transform how we live in the decades ahead. One of those technologies was the self driving car that is being developed by Google.

As you might expect, they first showed how the car would react on a closed circuit running at a route and speed that was pre-programmed into the car’s navigation system. As impressive as that is, testing has advanced to the point where scientists are regularly taking their fleet out on public roads – these robotic Toyota Prius’ have logged more than 190,000 miles with limited human intervention.

Google has set up a demonstration system on their Redmond campus using golf carts to show how this technology will function in the future.

The project is guided by Stanford University professor, Sebastian Thrun and was inspired by a desire to reduce road accidents. The project could eventually lead to more efficiencies in the road network as automated cars could safely drive closer together than human drivers.

What new mobility technologies do you think we’ll see in the future? Go to the comments section below and tell us what you’d like to see.

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