How Google's Self-Driving Car Works

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 . Thrun and Urmson explained how the car works and showed videos of the road tests, including footage of what the on-board computer "sees" [image below] and how it detects other vehicles, pedestrians, and traffic lights. The car then combines the laser measurements with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself while avoiding obstacles and respecting traffic laws. The vehicle also carries other sensors, which include: four radars, mounted on the front and rear bumpers, that allow the car to "see" far enough to be able to deal with fast traffic on freeways; 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.

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