Google Hopes to Reduce Fatal Auto Accidents With Completely Autonomous Vehicles
Tech superpower Google is not only planning to enter the automotive industry, but also hopes to take humans out of the driver’s seat with a new, self driving car. The innovative company announced last month that it plans to begin testing about 100 of two-seat, self-driving vehicles.
“We’ve been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving,” said Google in a blog post announcing the plan. “Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”
Therein lies Google’s goal. It’s not an entrepreneurial venture hoping to compete with the likes of Ford or Chevy, but rather as a project designed to “improve road safety and help people who can’t drive.”
Statistically, there’s a fatal auto accident once every 15 minutes, amounting to 94 deaths per day, and 33,963 every year. Considering the fact that the most common causes of fatal accidents include drunk driving, speeding, and reckless driving, an autonomous vehicle would naturally help solve the urgent problem.
Though the prototypes will have manual controls for those test driving cars so that they can override the autopilot driving systems–a stipulation required by California law–Google’s vision for these cars is to make them completely autonomous. The end product won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator, or even a brake pedal.
As intimidating as the inability to brake sounds, the cars do have sensors that look in every direction for over 200 yards, effectively eliminating blind spots. Plus, their top speed is limited to just 25 miles per hour.
“The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button,” wrote Google. “And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people.”