Google's self-driving cars can't go where no man has gone before

By Adam Zeis on 15 May 2014 09:52 am
2
loading...
2
loading...
3
loading...

So it turns out that Google's self-driving car may not be as smart as we thought — though it's still pretty darn smart. The teched-out Lexus RX350h has plenty of lasers, cameras and radar systems to keep it on track when driving around with no human at the wheel, but according to Google Software Lead Dmitri Dolgov, there's still one thing that's been left out — unmapped roads. While the self-driving vehicle does amazingly well on roads that Google has collected data for, it can't drive anywhere that's off the map.

Dolgov says that "If we have not already built our own maps in an area, the car cannot drive there." He went on to say, "It's also a really important part of the safety story."

Even though the Google Maps cars may have collected data for certain areas, there's still plenty of work to be done before these driverless vehicles can follow the same path. Each road needs to be driven multiple times in order to collect enough data to make them safe enough for these vehicles.

Dolgov says he isn't worried though. These unmapped areas will continue to be collected and the vehicles can always be driven by humans to collect more data in unknown places.

Source: Wired

13 comments

Reader comments

Google's self-driving cars can't go where no man has gone before

13 Comments
Sort by Rating

I guess the biggest use case for an autonomous car would be commuting to work (at least for me) so this wouldn't really be a huge drawback. Drive to work a few times to teach it the route (or routes, just in case) then sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Alternately, on long trips on interstates it would be useful, so no problems with lack of mapping there, either.

Nice peak into Google's marketing strategy regarding the "safety story." Obviously will be really important towards driving customer adoption of this new technology.

Anyone going to be an early adopter?

First thing that comes to my mind, is that no one's driveway is mapped. Does that mean you always have to turn off 'auto drive' to park in your driveway? That would be an awkward shortcoming. That would be different when you car could learn roads that aren't maps, simply by you driving there by yourself first.

There's a simple solution to this one that Google do every day.
Collect data from everyone! The only difference here is they then share that data with everyone else, continuously updating each other eventually every motorway, b road sideroad and country lane will be mapped in fine detail the information being drip fed constantly updating and adding to others vehicles.
The cars acting a little like an ants nest or hive mind.

I know there are other companies working on driverless cars but all the competitors might have to come up with some common standards. That would allow the different cars to share road information with each other to make everyone safer. So, if a Google car didn't have the road information, it could ask the surrounding cars, parked or not, from Mercedes or some other company for what it needs. I think the safest driverless system will be one where all the cars are connected to the others near by. There might even be a different technology built into the future road infrastructure to assist cars as well.

I agree. I think eventually, either the industry will converge on a standard that makes sense, or it will be legislated for safety reasons. I hope it is the former, and we don't end up with a Blu-ray/ HD-DVD situation in car technology.

well most of the real power behind this is the data... so really, the price would be that of a car plus a bunch of sensors and a computer... and don't forget an internet connection...

Google should use electric cars and let enthusiasts use them to go into areas that are unmapped. I would definitely drive around and map out the towns I drive around.

A bit disappointing since new suburbans are growing in most places and I doubt that new streets are mapped.