Google has been quietly in the automobile business for some time. Driverless vehicles have been the main attraction and now the work has paid off; Google has been granted a patent for their “mixed-mode autonomous vehicle”. In time we may all being going for a ride with Google.
The “mixed-mode autonomous vehicle” patent is for technology that turns a car into a driverless vehicle (autonomous) and back again (manual). In autonomous mode the car uses a state of the art combination of video cameras, radar, and laser range finders to drive around. Switch the car back to manual and the driver is in complete control of the vehicle. These cars have already been in operation and have logged around 140,000 miles on America’s roads. You could have driven by one and may not have even noticed.
A self driven car removes the human element and that means a lot such as fewer accidents, less police action, and less fuel consumption. Many drives punch the gas and slam on the brakes – a lot of stop and go – the constant need for acceleration eats up gas. With the car doing the driving this would, hypothetically, not happen. Additionally, the autonomous vehicle would maintain a steady speed while traveling, sort of a constant cruise control, again a fuel saving feature. The potential for the use of Google’s technology is seemingly endless, just think of this technology integrated into a cities bus system.
Being granted the patent for the technology is just the beginning of making these autonomous vehicles mainstream – but a giant step none the less. Who knows when the Google autonomous vehicle will be available to the public, but the fact is they are out there and on the roads and Google is not the only company exploring this kind of technology. So, while we wait to be driven by our cars, keep your eyes open because that car next to you might just be driving itself.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison