google-self-driving-carMan has technology advanced.  Do you remember those old 1950’s commercials about the technology of the future?  The ones where we have robots cooking for us, running errands for us, and computers making our lives incredibly easy.  It’s crazy that we are getting cars that can now drive themselves.  I’m sure that many of us have already heard about this advancement in tech that allows cars to drive on their own without somebody physically behind the wheel.

Well, in an article that appeared this weekend in the Atlantic, there was news about Google’s self-driving cars and how they operate technically.  But it gets deeper than that.  It looks like Google is finding a way to more effectively “crawl” the real world, just like it crawls the web.  This analogy comes straight from the Atlantic itself.

Using their “real world” initiatives, Google has been busy building a virtual representation of the real world that can be used for a number of different reasons and purposes.  Some of the purposes can include offline ad tracking, as well as a range of mobile consumer services and search improvements.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic that shows that, although Google is making the world “legible” to robots, Google’s self-driving cars are years away from being mainstream and widely used.

The key to Google’s success has been that these cars aren’t forced to process an entire scene from scratch. Instead, their teams travel and map each road that the car will travel. And these are not any old maps. They are not even the rich, road-logic-filled maps of consumer-grade Google Maps.

 They’re probably best thought of as ultra-precise digitizations of the physical world, all the way down to tiny details like the position and height of every single curb. A normal digital map would show a road intersection; these maps would have a precision measured in inches. 

But the “map” goes beyond what any of us know as a map. “Really,

[our maps] are any geographic information that we can tell the car in advance to make its job easier,” explained Andrew Chatham, the Google self-driving car team’s mapping lead.

“We tell it how high the traffic signals are off the ground, the exact position of the curbs, so the car knows where not to drive,” he said. “We’d also include information that you can’t even see like implied speed limits.”

At this point, this means that Google is doing what they can to obtain the necessary information, and processing it, to make the world intelligible to self-driving cars.  In order to make self-driving cars a reality, Google would need to obtain an incredibly detailed amount of data for every single street in the US and the world in order for the cars to make their presence a normal thing among other drivers.

 

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