As many automakers are seeking to enter the future market for cars that drive themselves, Google has been among the tech companies to jump the gun and already have test fleets of such vehicles.
Up until now, the company’s self-driving cars were (although a human presence was needed to take control if the situation required it) able to freely roam highways – but the city, with a wide variety of potential hazardous situations were too much for the silicon brain.
Well, Google seems to have overcome that aspect, as the project’s leader said in a blog entry that test cars can now handle thousands of mind boggling situations that would have rendered the car useless a year or two ago.
“We’re growing more optimistic that we’re heading toward an achievable goal — a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention,” project director Chris Urmson wrote. A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area,” he added.
The update is the first one official since 2012, as the driverless car is among the projects developed by the very secretive Google X lab. The company stated its goal is to bring the technology to the wide audience by 2017, with initial cars being constantly monitored by their human driver in case the computer fails. The 2017 objective is also very ambitious, as many of the automakers working on similar projects say there would be driverless cars only by 2020.