Published December 16, 2011
Google’s driverless car is one step closer to parking itself in your driveway.
The procedure involved uses sensors on the car to identify a “landing strip” identified by a sign or other type of marker, such as a QR code painted on the surface of the road, which marks the beginning of a predetermined self-driving zone. The car would then confirm its location via GPS and proceed autonomously by tracking its exact location through a combination of map data and visual landmarks.
While Google has already tested a vehicle capable of self-driving on the open road, the idea behind the patent is to create a safe way for the car to operate itself within regulated areas or without any people on board for backup control. This would allow a “driver” to leave the car at the entrance to a garage, where it would park and retrieve itself, or for the vehicle to take passengers on a self-guided tour of a specific location.
A prototype based on a Toyota Prius uses a roof-mounted, rotating lidar to monitor its surroundings, which is accurate to less than an inch. Google says it has completed a 1,000 mile challenge, covering that distance over a complex route without any human intervention.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Web 2.0 summit in October that "a thousand miles is a good deal. But we do need to get on to doing a million miles. We're getting there -- I'm optimistic."
The company has not yet said when it expects the technology to go into production.