Once a secret project, Google’s autonomous vehicles are now out in the open, quite literally, with the company test-driving them on public roads and, on one occasion, even inviting people to ride inside one of the robot cars as it raced around a closed course.
Two things seem particularly interesting about Google’s approach. First, it relies on very detailed maps of the roads and terrain, something that is essential to determine accurately where the car is. Using GPS-based techniques alone the location could be off by several meters.
The second thing is that, before sending the self-driving car on a road test, Google engineers drive along the route one or more times to gather data about the environment. When it’s the autonomous vehicle’s turn to drive itself, it compares the data it is acquiring to the previously recorded data, an approach that is useful to differentiate pedestrians from stationary objects like poles and mailboxes.
In the following video “How Google’s Self-Driving Car Works” Google engineers explain the technology behind their autonomous vehicle in detail and show moving pictures of the road tests.
Impressive stuff, really.
via ieee Spectrum