Google Drives Driverless
The search giant Google patents a method to switch a vehicle from a human-controlled mode into the state where it takes charge of the wheel. The firm suggests the technology could be used to offer tours of tourist locations or to send faulty models to repair shops.
Google says the landing strip could simply be a mark on the ground, a sign on a wall, or lines or arrows showing where the vehicle should be parked.
The patent explains that GPS receivers are sometimes only accurate to about 30ft (9.1m). However, if the vehicle can monitor its path and knows where it started from, it can simply be told to drive set distances from that point, adjusting its direction at the appropriate places.
The patent describes how data provided at the landing strip could also tell the vehicle to look up an internet address which would let it know if it needed to drive itself to a repair shop, or simply move to another parking bay to ensure a hire company had its cars spread evenly across its various pick-up spots.
Although the technology described may sound fanciful, Google has been testing a fleet of driverless cars for several years. The vehicles combine artificial intelligence with the firm’s Google Street View maps as well as video cameras and a range of sensors.
Experts say Google’s “passion project” could end up creating a valuable revenue stream
It has adapted a fleet of Toyota Prius and Audi TT models which have driven 160,000 miles with limited human input and more than 1,000 miles without driver involvement.