Will Google self-driving car be future’s safety vehicle? (video)

10 May 2012

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Eric Schmidt, executive chairman; Google; Larry Page, CEO; and Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, in the Google self-driving hybrid car

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This week, Nevada was the first state in the US to grant Google a special licence to test out its self-driving car, essentially a modified Toyota Prius vehicle, on its streets and highways. But what does this licence really signal about auto safety and what’s coming down the track?

Of late we’ve been inundated with news from car manufacturers’ clean-tech plans, with makers in a race to electrify vehicles or make them hybrids against the backdrop of depleting oil resources and energy security and climate change issues.

Future of auto safety

But, there have also been a lot of car safety technology advances happening.

Take Ford’s MyKey technology that’s set to roll out in certain Ford models in Europe this year. Via the MyKey, parents can programme in a set speed limit for their teenagers when they are driving the car, giving them a separate electronic key.

I got the chance to witness the MyKey technology in action last year. It’s almost like a type of ‘grounding’ facility for teenage driving – drive too fast and your parents can opt to lower your speed limit range via the MyKey.

It can also control volume levels on in-car stereo systems. You can read about the other Ford safety technologies here.

Meanwhile, Volvo has pioneered its City Safety collision-detection technology. Volvo has developed an autonomous emergency braking system that’s designed to help a driver avoid a low-speed crash or to reduce its severity.

And the Auto Alliance, which is made up of an association of 12 vehicle manufacturers including BMW Group, Chrysler Group, Ford, General Motors Company, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America, has been founded to promote sustainable mobility as well as vehicle safety innovations.

Back to the Google self-driving car. CNN reported today that the car may save lives, as it said its technological vision could be a mark of a leap forward for vehicle safety.

The driverless hybrid car Google has pioneered is a converted Toyota Prius. It features radar sensors, artificial intelligence and GPS video cameras to allow the car to navigate through the streets as safely as possible, according to Google.

Google had filed a patent application in the US to switch cars from human-controlled mode into driverless mode.

Watch a video of the self-driving car in action here:

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Carmel was a long-time reporter with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com