June 3, 2014

Google’s science fiction projects are becoming a reality

Written By Gishan Don Ranasinghe


Google tries to make projects that sound like science fiction into reality at its secretive research lab, Google X. Some of these projects are Extreme life extension, Global wifi providing weather balloons and Self-driving cars. But breaking all the odds against them, yesterday at the annual code conference google introduced their first prototype of the Google X Self-driving car project. Thats the Two Seater Google X prototype. This car is like non other. It has no steering wheel, accelerator or even a brake pedal. It only has three buttons for the user a engage with the car. Start button, stop button and a immediate stop button.

Self-driving car project was a five year long project. They began researches in 2008 and first they modified few known car models like Toyota Prius and Lexus SUVs in 2008, with a cruise control and a amazing laser scanner on the top. But then they started designing and making a car from scratch. This car will mark the next stage of the Google’s five year old project. It looks like a Smart Car with two seats and room enough for a small luggage.

This car can transport two passengers from one place to another without user interaction.  In the dashboard there is a small screen which shows the distance to the destination and a realtime countdown to show the time to the destination. When the journey finish, the car will alarm the passengers to take their luggage and waiting for further instructions.

The technology behind this car is remarkable. Powered by an electric motor with around 100 mile range, to find its location on the real world, car uses combination of sensors and intelligent softwares. The softwares behaves more like a normal GPS system. These softwares using the sensors which can recognise objects, people, traffic lights and also unpredictable hazards. If there is road works, it can recognize traffic symbols and navigate its way to a diversion route. The laser scanner on the roof will scan around the car to make sure car will monitor the environment around it all the time.

Google still needs prove this technology is safe enough before making is available to the public. They still need to come up with further improvements. Then they will allow their partners like Toyota, Ford and Fiat to use it. So, we are not far away from using a Self-driving commercial car like seen in science fiction movies.