Driverless cars have always captured the public’s imagination. Hollywood, in particular, has given us some memorable self-driving cars such as David Hasselhoff’s crime fighting vehicle KITT in the 80’s Knight Rider TV series and the lovable Herbie in Disney’s The Love Bug to name a few. However, if Google has its way, driverless cars may evolve from a cool concept used in Hollywood movies to our actual driveways in reality.
At the inaugural Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Google unveiled the latest version of its driverless cars. The two seater vehicle would have no steering wheel or other driver controls. Instead, using an array of sensors and advanced tracking software, it will be able to determine its surroundings, its locations and “see” several hundred metres.
Google’s commitment to developing driverless cars shows us just how the Internet Of Things looks set to transform the way we travel. Where we were once reliant on directions and maps, SatNav has already made our journeys so much easier using mapping data to guide us on our way. What’s to come is the advent of smart cars – a movement that will see data actually driving us in the most literal sense. But very few of the Fortune 500 brands have the guts to tell their shareholders that they will spend Billions of dollars on investing in self driving cars, as the payback time is a total guess work. But happily enough we have Fortune 500 brands like Google, arguably the biggest handler of data that invests for the future, not next quarterly report.
The Internet Of Things is essentially about everyday objects connected by a network which enables them to send and receive data. In Google’s case, by combining their road-filled logic maps that know when you’re approaching traffic lights and stops, together with data collected on every drive from laser sensors and on the top of the car that detect pedestrians, animals and unexpected objects its driverless cars the driving accuracy the benefits that their Google Car will offer are really quite impressive.
Imagine a world where you all you need to worry about is where you need to get to and your car does the rest. You won’t need to see where you’re going, worry about getting caught up the traffic ahead, panic if you have a lapse in concentration and someone steps out in front of you, or even struggle to find a parking space. Why? Because your car will be smart enough to do all that for you.
Already, Google is using its Social GPS Maps & Traffic app, Waze, to gather data from drivers to contribute real-time traffic updates to users, direct them to petrol stations with the lowest fuel prices for instance and benefit from live insights on the road. Using this technology, driverless cars would get passengers to their desired destination in the most time efficient way. And the more self driving cars we have on the roads, the less irrational traffic jams we will see, as the most common traffic jam is caused by something referred to as “stop waves”. If someone irrationally breaks on the highway, the car behind have to panic break, and the next, and so on until you quickly create a long unexpected traffic jam. Wouldn’t it be great to avoid these traffic jams on the bank holidays and spend some more time on our destinations instead?
What fascinates me the most about the possibilities of the Google Car is that the whole application of using fast data to be smarter with the way we work and live day to day. Acting fast, learning all the time and giving people a better user experience, just as we use data in business to make smarter decisions for ourselves and our customers. I’m really excited about the possibilities and the ways in which companies like Google are using data to give back to society.