Google has been a pioneer in the self-driving car industry, and on Wednesday the car program marked a massive 2 million miles driven on just public roads. The mark is significant as traditional car makers continue making efforts to develop their autonomous cars.
The car program by the second most valuable company has about 60 self-driving cars which are on the road at the moment and they are in four states as of August. The cars are all on the road getting some real world experience as they continue to navigate the numerous complexities of the world and humans.
Google says that the city driving experience of the cars is much more important than just the highway experience, which gives them a chance to provide opportunities so that they can learn how to get in control with the construction zones, the bicyclists hand gestures and the police cars, which will all be loaded with the cameras and sensors, and also to array some detailed data.
The software lead on the Google car program, Dmitri Dolgov, said that the best way to think about the issue was not just regarding miles or time but rather in the number of interactions which were gathered and the richness and the world of the complexity of the data. The move from one million miles to two million miles has taken over a year for Google, and in that time the market for the autonomous driving is no longer there, which means there is a new era for the transportation that is about to emerge.
Back in June 2015, Google announced that they had reached the one million thresholds and then Tesla had just announced the semiautonomous feature on their cars, and it was just on the horizon. The feature then rolled out in October, and there was some heavy speculation after that talking about the self-driving vehicles capability.
The largest car maker in the world, General Motors Co., also managed to buy the Cruise Automation Inc., a developer of the self-driving technology. This was a deal which reports valued at $1 billion. The company has also invested close to $500 million in the taxi ride-sharing service that has been changing the landscape of car ownership together with Uber. Other car makers have also given their plans for the self-driving cars in the next few years, such as the Ford Motor Co which have set a target of 2023.
Google began their project for autonomous vehicles back in 2009, but even after that long, the company has still not announced when they are going to start giving rides to the public nor have they put out a strategy. The company has however been vocal in the public policy of the self-driving technology and says that full autonomy for cars is better than semi-autonomous. Google still believes they need a car without any human intervention.
Mr Dolgov said that the Google cars 2 million miles represent 300 years of the road experience. Google has cars in metro Phoenix, Austin, Texas; Kirkland, Washington; and of course Silicon Valley.