When you think about autonomous cars, you’ll probably think about Google, Tesla, and Uber. In 2016, Google (known as Waymo) was the leader in testing and it wasn’t even close. Waymo logged more than 635,000 miles while testing its autonomous vehicles on California’s public roads compared to just over 20,000 for all its competitors combined. It had 615,000 more miles logged than companies like Tesla, GM, BMW, Mercedes, Ford, Nissan, Delphi, and Bosch combined. That’s not the only crazy part, because the most important thing when testing driver-less cars is whether or not a person has to take control of the car. Waymo leads the others in terms of fewer “disengagements,” which refers to when human test drivers have to retake control from the driver-less software. Waymo's test drivers had to disengage 124 times, or only once every 5,000 miles. Compare that to the likes of BMW: who had one disengagement during 638 total miles of testing. Tesla: who had 182 disengagements in 550 miles. And Mercedes-Benz: had 336 disengagements over 673 miles. They are blowing all of these companies out of the water.
The way Waymo has it set up is like this: There’s a forward facing cameras that works with 8 other ones stationed all around the car to get vision 360 degrees around. There are three lidar systems that shoot lasers so the car is able to “see” its surroundings. Unbelievably, this lidar system can detect a helmet from two football fields away (600 yards). There are also sensors integrated into the car so it has more ability to detect the things around them. And lastly, there are radar sensors that can detect objects in the rain, fog, or even snow. They are seamlessly perfecting something that has had the attention of all car companies and taxi/uber style companies too. All of what they’re doing with testing and engineering have made the capability of driverless cars seem not too far off in the near future.
In my opinion this is awesome to see. There have been videos of cars for Uber that drove through a red light, and to see that Google has been able to make a much more efficient driver-less car. The important part about this, is that most of the miles that Google have logged are on city streets. Most of what a company like Tesla has logged are when drivers are using their “autopilot” which you can put on when you’re on the highway. However, in the first month, the car got in three accidents, but haven’t gotten into any other accidents since. They see that in the US about 35,000 people die from car related accidents, and they believe they can lessen that number. Even being able to help people who are blind or incapable of operating a vehicle on-call transportation. In the race for self-driving cars, they are currently in the lead.
PS: Google paid their engineers on this project so much, they quit because they were able to retire.
To read the article: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2017/02/08/waymo-is-crushing-it/#160176236790