Over the past few years, the race has been on to bring the first autonomous vehicle – a car able to drive on its own without driver assistance – to the market, and while you may think the innovation is coming out of a resurgent Detroit, these innovations are actually being driven by some of the nation's most prestigious tech firms.
For example, Google has long been at work perfecting these cars, which use a combination of radar sensors, roof-mounted cameras and laser range finders to navigate complex roadways. After keeping the technology under wraps, Google has successfully tested these cars on tricky roadways such as the traffic-packed Golden Gate Bridge and California's notoriously complex Highway 1.
On May 8, the "driverless cars" took a step closer to becoming available to the general marketplace. After Nevada changed its laws to allow autonomous vehicles in March, this week, Google granted what is believed by many to be the first license to test driverless cars.
Google will now be able to test its creations on Nevada's bustling city streets, provided there is someone behind the wheel and at least two people in the vehicle during the testing.
The legislative move received support from legislators such as Senator Alex Padilla, who lauded the company's attempts to make the roadways of the future a safer place for travelers.
"The vast majority of vehicle accidents are due to human error," Padilla said in a statement after introducing the legislation. "Through the use of computers, sensors and other systems, an autonomous vehicle is capable of analysing the driving environment more quickly and operating the vehicle more safely."
Other companies that have tested similar technology including Continental Automotive Group, a German company that was also rumored to be competing for a license. In past speeches, representatives from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have suggested that such advances could reduce roadway accidents by as much as 80 percent.
What do you think of Google's driverless car? Would you purchase one? Share your thoughts below:
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