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Google’s Driverless Cars Are Plum Cyber-targets

29/05/2014 by


Without proper safety overrides, automonous vehicles could be on the highway to cyber-hell.

Google is building two-passenger prototypes that don’t have steering wheels, accelerator pedals or brake pedals in an effort to bring the self-driving small electric cars to market. But what about safety?

The vehicles are currently being built but the internet giant has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, helping incorporate some of the technology (such as laser sensors and radar) into Lexus SUVs and the Prius from Toyota. According to Chris Urmsen, director of the self-driving car project at Google, it’s now moving to the prototype stage through partnerships with automotive suppliers and manufacturers.

“We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention,” he explained in a blog. “Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people.”

The positives are obvious: humans are unreliable, easily distracted and have vastly slower reaction times than software. With a computer brain at the wheel, driving will also be more efficient, translating to environmental and economic benefits. But with technology this complicated, there are inevitable bugs.

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