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Google has confirmed that its self-driving cars would be available for public by 2017. The company claims the car has mastered motorway driving, but city roads full with stray walkers, bicyclists and blind corners poses a challenge for the cars’ computers.
In initial stages, human drivers would be there to take control if the computer fails and gradually there would be no need for a driver. Passengers would not be required to touch the steering and can read, daydream, sleep or work while the car drives.
Google maintains that computers will one day drive far more safely than humans, and part of the company’s pitch is that robotic cars can reduce traffic accidents. The work ahead for the search giant is to perfect the technology strapped onto its fleet of about two dozen Lexus RX450H SUVs.
Sensors including radar and lasers create 3D maps of a self-driving car’s surroundings in real-time, while Google’s software sorts objects into four categories. They include moving vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and static objects such as signs, curbs and parked cars.
Initially, the car’s capabilities were fairly crude. A group of pedestrians on a street corner registered as a single person. The technology can now distinguish individuals, according to Google.