Google to enter automotive industry with self-driving cars

Google is taking on the automotive industry by developing a technology that will allow cars to drive themselves, in a bid to "fundamentally change car use".

Google: enters the automotive industry
Google: enters the automotive industry

Its automated cars have been branded by the company as the "highway trains of tomorrow" and use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see" other traffic.

It also uses detailed maps to navigate the road ahead using Google’s data centres to process information gathered by its cars when mapping the terrain.

Google says the cars are never unmanned and always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel to disengage cruise control.

On the Google blog, the company said: "[the development is] a first in robotics research" and the reason for expanding its technology into the automotive market for the first time is because "Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology."

Google also believes its new car technology could potentially cut the 1.2 million road traffic accidents – according the World Health Organisation – by half.

Its "highway trains" should also cut energy consumption while increasing the number of people on the roads.

Google’s blog said: "Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use."

Google developed the care technology with the help of some of the best engineers from the Darpa Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organised by the US government.

Google said it’s "always been optimistic about technology’s ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today.

"While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science. And that future is very exciting."

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