For years Google has been designing and testing software and hardware to make cars autonomous. Years ago, in 2012, Google began work on designing self driving cars by combining a vast array of technology such as GPS, cameras, and other pieces of equipment.
According to a blog post by Google, "our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error, reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car. "
Google has announced that a few of their prototype cars will leave the testing tracks and drive on streets and roads at Mountain View, California.
The cars will have only one driver in them when traveling, whereas, before, during promotional videos and short tests around cities, two drivers needed to be present in the car when operating the car.
The new prototypes will drive with the same software that their existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses but the cars will be driving with only one driver, and will drive on open roads and highways amongst traffic and other environmental factors.
Many states have allowed for the testing of self driving cars, including Texas and California but many states are also jumping on the bandwagon quicker than expected. As of the end of 2013, four U.S. states, (Nevada, Florida, California, and Michigan), along with the District of Columbia, have successfully enacted laws addressing autonomous vehicles. In June 2011, the Nevada Legislature passed a law to authorize the use of autonomous cars.
Google is thrilled about this advancement in the project, as they should be. After all, changes in the ways of cruising are approaching very fast. For many, such as people with disabilities, this will eliminate transportation barriers completely. A new wave of independence is rolling to a vehicle near all of us.