On our visit to UMTRI last week, many in our class were introduced for the first time to the reality of the autonomous car becoming commonplace in coming years. UMTRI has been playing around for a few years now with dedicated short-range communications to enable V2V communication. However, the UMTRI is the leader in autonomous car development.
In Silicon Valley, CA, Google already has technology capable of safely driving a car through city streets. Google’s autonomous cars use not only DSRC radio for V2V communication, but lasers, cameras, machine learning computers with sharp reaction times. Google prototypes have driven over 100,000 miles so far on public roads, with two accidents total (both fender benders). The author of the cited Business Insider article notes the relevance of automated vehicles in a society where the majority of cars on roads today have one solo driver and average 30 mph.
Although still in the testing phase, project director Chris Urmson intends the automated car technology to be available to the consumer in the next ten years. As opposed to UMTRI, the members of which seemed confident that DSRC alone could be first mechanism used to enable automated driving, Google incorporates a number of technologies to make autonomous cars a reality.