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Thu Mar 29, 2012, 11:45 AM

Google puts a blind man behind the wheel of its self-driving car (video)


Sometimes it feels all too easy to succumb to cynicism when looking at the cutthroat competition in the tech world, but a new video from Google that demonstrates its self-driving car is more than enough to lead one's heart back to the optimism inherent in human technology. In the video, Google employees pick up Steve Mahan, a man who's lost 95 percent of his vision, and put him behind the wheel and from the moment the car starts up to a gentle robotic voice that announces "auto driving," it's clear that this ride is going to be unlike any other you've seen. Steve explains how "you lose your timing in life, everything takes you much longer" "there are some places that you cannot go, there are some things that you really cannot do." But it's clear that for Steve, who's able to order a drive-through burrito and pick up his dry cleaning, that this could be an utterly uplifting technology, and one more imminent than some could have imagined.

Google announced its self-driving car project back in 2010, and since then it says it has safely completed over 200,000 miles of computer-led driving. Others like BMW, Audi, Toyota, and university engineers are working on their own versions of computer-controlled driving systems, too. And with states like Nevada easing into the use of self-driving cars on public roads with recently approved regulations, the concept seems to be gaining legitimate traction in the public eye. Google says that it organized the test as a "technical experiment outside of our core research efforts," but that "it's also a promising look at what this kind of technology may one day deliver for society" a promise that could one day allow those like Steve to experience the joy of driving, and more importantly, the dignity of self-determination in ways they never thought possible.

link
http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/29/2910196/google-self-driving-car-video

Video



Truly Amazing. This technology is much further along than I thought possible. Opens up a whole new world for the differently abled.


PS: When news about Google's self driving cars leaked to the press in 2010, a lot of "tech journalists" pooh poohed it, claiming that Google should just "focus" on what it does already..and should not invest in such different stuff. However this video clearly shows how wrong they were. Imagine a world where the disabled could do much more than they can do now.

Other stuff being worked on at Google's secret X labs include Space elevators (yep!) and Robots. One does not see other Companies invest in such far-out tech. They all do iterative development of existing tech and call it 'innovative", while Google is one of the very few companies which actually do bleeding edge research on technologies that might or might not bear fruit in the distant future. I mean come on...space elevators! how cool is that

An article about the Google X labs
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/14/technology/at-google-x-a-top-secret-lab-dreaming-up-the-future.html?pagewanted=all

22 replies, 2480 views

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Arrow 22 replies Author Time Post
Reply Google puts a blind man behind the wheel of its self-driving car (video) (Original post)
Vehl Mar 2012 OP
trumad Mar 2012 #1
Hassin Bin Sober Mar 2012 #2
Cleita Mar 2012 #3
Hugabear Mar 2012 #16
Cleita Mar 2012 #17
uncle ray Mar 2012 #4
Hassin Bin Sober Mar 2012 #5
Vehl Mar 2012 #8
Uncle Joe Mar 2012 #6
Vehl Mar 2012 #10
surrealAmerican Mar 2012 #11
CJCRANE Mar 2012 #7
Hassin Bin Sober Mar 2012 #13
Xithras Mar 2012 #15
Uncle Joe Mar 2012 #18
Vehl Mar 2012 #21
lunatica Mar 2012 #9
RebelOne Mar 2012 #12
Vehl Mar 2012 #14
Cleita Mar 2012 #19
Vehl Mar 2012 #20
madokie Apr 2012 #22

Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 11:46 AM

1. Wow indeed.

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 11:54 AM

2. I wonder if it can stop for the proverbial ....

..... "ball from behing parked car with child running in to street chasing the ball"

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 12:21 PM

3. I have seen the Google street view car on my road.

I never knew until later that it was a robotic car. It seems since there is a Google street view almost all over the world that it can accomplish that feat. I have never heard of any accidents or animals or children run over by it and it's been operating for many years now. I don't know for sure but if it can, that is awesome.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #3)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:32 PM

16. I don't think those Google Street cars are robotic

This is an entirely different project.

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Response to Hugabear (Reply #16)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:36 PM

17. You are right, but they seem to

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 12:23 PM

4. i don't doubt it one bit.

i expect the google car's computer would have every possible evasive maneuver calculated before a human driver says "oh, shit!"

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Response to uncle ray (Reply #4)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 12:28 PM

5. I had "the ball" scenario happen to me while in high school driver's ED.

The ball rolled out, I hit the brakes and the kid ran out in the street after the ball.

The instructor looked over at me and said, "I bet you think I paid him to do that"

It was pretty funny because they drilled it in to our heads in the simulator over and over and over.

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #2)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:03 PM

8. Imo It will "see" both the ball and the kid.

The sensors on the car provide a 360 degree 3D image of the surrounding world to the car. This image is refreshed dozens(and for certain sensors, Hundreds) of times a second, enabling it to react and "see" stuff much faster than a human could



Check this awesome video where they show how it all works..and the Video is an year old already...the tech they have now would be even more impressive




An year ago, it was good enough to drive at 43 miles per hour, in a rooftop garage, while navigating obstacles.Check that hair-raising vid out here



^^ the Reporter nearly freaks out at the speed...as he only expected the car to drive around at 5 to 10 miles/h

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 12:30 PM

6. Fascinating and inspiring.

This might eventually be good for inebriated drivers as well.

Thanks for the thread, Vehl.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:09 PM

10. Yep

That's what I thought first as well, when I saw this concept in action. Accidents caused while driving Drunk/while on the phone will be drastically reduced.

Some of the other advantages include extreme car-pooling.

Another interesting concept..A family could own just one car...it could drop off the husband at office, come back home, drop the wife off...come back..and drop the kids off at school...and find free parking maybe a mile away!

Cars going by themselves to buy groceries/food/stuff from stores which have a variation of the "drive through" could become a reality as well.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #6)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:09 PM

11. ... and texting drivers, sleepy drivers, drivers with children who are screaming, ...

... drivers with friends in the car, drivers who are eating, etc., etc.

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 01:41 PM

7. One day

everyone will drive this way IMO.

Imagine a car that can see several miles ahead and round corners and that knows what all the other cars in the vicinity are doing and doesn't have the same aggressive or territorial instincts that people have. I think it would be better than a human driver.

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Response to CJCRANE (Reply #7)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:20 PM

13. I would hope I could get mine programed with "aggressive or territorial instincts"

No way I want some fucker getting ahead of me at a light.

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Response to Hassin Bin Sober (Reply #13)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:29 PM

15. You know that, once these go up for sale, they'll be hacked within a week.

How many people would go nuts in a car that never speeds, never corners aggressively, and has no concept of "hurry"? Where there's a market, there will be plenty of people to hack a solution together.

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Response to Xithras (Reply #15)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:37 PM

18. Then it would end up being something like this.

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Response to Uncle Joe (Reply #18)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 08:33 PM

21. good one. lol

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:08 PM

9. Just like all those riders who sleep on the subway and buses

Drivers will be able to squeeze out some sleep up to the last minute when they go to work.

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:16 PM

12. What would be the cost of a car like that?

I doubt the average disabled person would afford it.

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Response to RebelOne (Reply #12)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:22 PM

14. Right now the cost will be probably high..

But when mass production starts it will be pretty low.Maybe 5k above non self-driving cars is my guess...might be even lower when this catches on 5 to 10 years from now.

As of now one of the major cost-components will be the Lidar(laser 3d imaging sensor)...everything else is pretty much off the shelf and bolted onto a regular Toyota Prius.

I also see the possibility of "Add on Self Driving" packs being available for sale which enable regular cars to gain their ability, just by plugging in/fitting on "kit"



Everything else is just software. While not this complex, in my college we did design a similar vehicle(we did not have Lidar, but had ultrasonic sensors ) which enabled us to rig a 200$ Radio Controlled car with the "brains" to avoid pedestrians/obstacles and reach a given GPS coordinate. It could navigate itself to the given coordinate using a GPS chip and the sensors while avoiding collisions.

At tests it was able to still evade people walking around campus while traveling at round 10miles/h.

Given that lame college kids like us could do something similar..I'm sure Google is able to do much much better.
The cost for the sensors,GPS chip, wireless stuff, other hardware/chips all added up to only around 300$. (apart from the 200$ cost for the Off the shelf RC car)

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Response to Vehl (Reply #14)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 04:39 PM

19. Now if they put solar panels on the roof to run them, they will have

the next generation of transportation vehicles.

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Response to Cleita (Reply #19)

Thu Mar 29, 2012, 08:32 PM

20. yep! nt

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Response to Vehl (Original post)

Wed Apr 4, 2012, 02:25 PM

22. Hell this and the augmented glasses

has me rethinking my mad on for google I've got going on right now, or had going on a bit ago . Hell I might be cured, how cool is that

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