Google puts its self-driving cars to use as commuter vehicles

Technology is at its best when it makes people’s lives better, and that’s precisely what we’re going for with our self-driving car project. We’re using advanced computer science to try and make driving safer and more enjoyable.

Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.

We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. As a next step, members of the self-driving car team will soon start using the cars solo (rather than in pairs), for things like commuting to work. This is an important milestone, as it brings this technology one step closer to every commuter. One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars. For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.

With each breakthrough we feel more optimistic about delivering this technology to people and dramatically improving their driving experience. We’ll see you on the road!

 

Source: Google – The self-driving car logs more miles on new wheels

 

 

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The most amazing, moving commercial of the Olympics – Meet the Superhumans of the Paralympics

 

This multi-sport training montage reveals that the Paralympics aren’t just a wheelchair affair. As Public Enemy’s “Harder Than You Think” blares in the background, we see Great Britain’s best: the visually impaired soccer team practicing with blindfolds (a way to ensure that those who see more than others don’t gain an unfair advantage), the fierce-looking four-foot tall champion swimmer Ellie Simmonds, amputee runners, and, yes, the wheelchair basketball team.*

Halfway through the clip, there’s a jarring cut to a bomb exploding in a war zone. Then there’s a pregnant mother at the hospital, awaiting word of her unborn child’s condition. That’s followed by a road accident that sends a car flipping on the highway. A second later, we’re back in the gym, where a legless man is doing pull-ups. Then we see a man—presumably the victim of that horrific car wreck—next to his crumpled vehicle.

 

Keep reading: Slate – This Trailer for the Paralympic Games is the Most Amazing Olympic Video You’ll Ever See

Our brains can brake a car faster than our feet

If you’ve ever had to slam on the brakes to prevent an accident, you know that the time it takes to get your foot to that pedal can seem like an eternity. Now, German researchers aim to cut that reaction time by getting drivers’ brain waves to help stop the car. Their findings appear in the Journal of Neural Engineering.

When you’re behind the wheel, or doing anything physical, your brain knows what it wants you to do before your body swings into action. Most times, this minor delay between thinking and doing is no big deal. But when you’re moving at 60 miles an hour and the car in front of you stops short, every fraction of a second counts.

Researchers recorded how quickly volunteers reacted when the lead vehicle in a driving simulator suddenly hit the brakes. Sensors monitored the subjects’ brain activity. Turns out drivers knew they needed to slow down more than a tenth of a second before they tap the brakes.

That might not seem like much, but if cars could read minds, they could stop 12 feet sooner at highway speeds. Which could mean the difference between a scare and a smash.

Listen to the podcast version of this story – Brain Brakes Car Faster Than Foot

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