|A Google car has even driven through the steep and curvy Lombard Street in San Francisco [GALLO/GETTY]|
Google is planning to introduce driverless cars in an ambitious project that has already seen the cars secretly driving through busy California roads, clocking a total of 1,000 miles without any human intervention.
The California-based company said on its website the cars have done more than 140,000 miles with only occasional human control.
According to an official Google blogpost by Sebastian Thrun, the company's software engineer, one car even successfully negotiated San Farncisco's Lombard Street, one of the steepest and curviest street in the US.But Thrun believes that the self-driving cars are still about eight years away from mass production.The technology developed by Google enables the automated cars to drive themselves using video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to "see" other traffic, as well as detailed maps.
Self-driving cars have been around for over four decades, but a breakthrough came in 2004 when they were tested in a series of Grand Challenge events organised by the US government. Following the failure of the first contest, a Stanford team led by Thrun built the car that won a race against a vehicle built by a Carnegie Mellon University team. And within two years, another such event showed that self-driving vehicles can successfully negotiate busy urban roads.
The 'google edge'Google's street view data gives it an edge with photographs of every street in the US, UK, Ireland and many major world cities, enabling the cars to plan their routes by seeing junctions, roads well in advance, according to data from the company.
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