A few weeks back we found out that the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) will not approve of the Google self-driving car if it will remain completely autonomous. The DMV wants drivers to have some sense of control when using it. For Google, this meant introducing additional features to ensure that the car passes the test. Also, although the self-driving car that is capable of navigation with minimal user input was unveiled recently, the company admitted that it is not yet ready for public use.
This is sad news, especially considering that the vehicle performed so well during tests: it ha safely riven over 700.000 miles. The technology may sound promising, but a researcher from the California Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation studied, Steven Shladover, declared that this number is not accurate.
“The public seems to think that all the technology issues are solved (…) but that is simply not the case.” – Steven Shladover
In addition to this, Chris Umson, the person in charge of the team developing the self-driving car by Google, admitted that the vehicle still has some technical glitches (encountered during testing). All these problems will be taken into consideration by the developing team and used to improve the vehicle’s technology.
One of the first problems addressed was related to stop lights. It seems that the car is programmed to halt at stop lights (included in the map uploaded in the system). However, newer stop lights have not been integrated into the map yet. This means that when a new stop light appears, Google will first need to collect information about it. If a stop light is not integrated in the map the car won’t stop at it (because it is not aware of it).
To resolve this situation Google engineers focused on a feature that will enable the car to sense a stop light that is not listed on the map. Sadly, this feature does not work in a four-way intersection.
Another problem that the self-driving car has is parking. Engineers have yet to test parking in multi-level parking areas. Another danger of the self-driving car is letting it drive itself during severe weather conditions (snow or rain). It has also not been tested in such situation.
The last problem that needs to be addressed is pedestrian recognition. This feature is still under development, but it seems that the vehicle was not able to tell a pedestrian from an officer.
Google has presented this challenges (which pretty much sum up the future problems of the car) and declared that the vehicle is not yet ready to drive in 99$ of the United States area.
Urmson assured that his team is working to get these issues addressed and hopes to launch the Google self-driving car in five years.