Google Driverless Cars: All you ever wanted to know, Toyota Prius, Lexus RX on test

Sep 16 2013, 16:03 IST
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The self-driving systems are installed in Toyota Prius and Lexus RX for testing. Reuters The self-driving systems are installed in Toyota Prius and Lexus RX for testing. Reuters
SummaryBegun in 2010, the self-driving systems are installed in Toyota Prius and Lexus RX for testing.

THE PROJECT: The Google Driverless Cars project is being led by Sebastian Thrun, who is also the co-inventor of Googleís Street View. Begun in 2010, the self-driving systems are installed in Toyota Prius and Lexus RX for testing. Robo-Taxi, a fleet of technology-driven chauffeur-less cars, is a Google X project. Google X is a secret facility for futuristic technologies such as Google Glass.

HOW IT WORKS: Lidar

On the carís roof is a rotating sensor known as LIDAR (laser radar). It uses lasers to scan up to up to 200 feet in every direction to create a 3D image of the carís surroundings.

Range finder

A range finder mounted on the rooftop is a Velodyne 64-beam laser which is an obstacle detector and navigator.

Position estimator

A sensor is located on the left rear-wheel that tracks the carís movement and updates its location on a map constantly.

Four radars

Three in the front and one at the rear determine the distance and position of vehicles and objects in the vicinity.

Video camera

A camera is fitted to the carís rear-view mirror that helps computers onboard detect, distinguish and recognise moving objects such as other cars, pedestrians and bikers. It also relays traffic-light information to computers.

WHAT IS LIDAR: The Lidar instrument fires rapid pulses of laser light at a surface, some of them at up to 150,000 pulses per second. A sensor on the instrument measures the amount of time each pulse takes to bounce back. Light moves at a constant speed so the LIDAR can calculate the distance between itself and the target with high accuracy. By repeating this in quick succession the instrument builds a complex Ďmapí of the surface it is measuring. Googleís robotic test cars have about $150,000 in equipment including a $70,000 LIDAR system.

ON THE ROAD:

* Testing of driverless cars on public roads has been approved in a few states of the USóNevada, Florida and California.

* Nevada issued a licence to a Toyota Prius fitted with experimental technology in 2012.

* The Google project team has a test fleet of about 10 cars. While testing, the team puts a person with an unblemished driving record in the driverís seat and a Google engineer in the passenger seat.

* The car drives at a system preset speed stored on maps and keeps distance from vehicles using sensors.

* As a back up, the system provides an override that allows a human driver

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