Google Drives Better Than You

ben sheehy denver colorado google cars drive better than youI recently blogged about Google’s efforts to seek suppliers for their new self-driving cars, which you can find here. Six years since beginning to test their self-driving cars, Google happily claims that they are indeed better drivers than your average human motorist. In those six years, Google’s fleet of 20+ self-driving vehicles have had 11 accidents, all of which Google says were caused by nothing more than human error and not the autonomous vehicles.

Chris Urmson, the director of Google’s self-driving car program, calls the 11 accidents minor, involving a few dents and scratches and notes that not once during any of those collisions was a Google car responsible. Instead, many of the accidents were caused by other nearby drivers who have crashed into Google’s cars from behind at traffic lights, side-swiped or hit some of the cars by not following the rules of the road. Most of the accidents occurred on city streets rather than freeways, which should come as a relief and a surprise to people who feared how an autonomous car would perform in fast-moving traffic.

So what makes Google’s autonomous car algorithm a better driver than the rest of us? According to Urmson, it all comes down to how much attention we put on the road versus how much attention a machine puts on the road and everything else around it. Humans are easily and often distracted; Urmson cites statistics that indicate that at any given moment, there are 660,000 people distracted behind the wheel either by checking their devices or other distractions. Currently, Google’s self-driving cars have a safety-driver, a human that is present in case anything does go wrong on the part of the car, and those drivers have witnessed other drivers doing rather strange and very distracting things while on the road. Reading books is a common one, but so is playing a trumpet apparently.

Google’s cars will not be reading books or playing trumpets while rolling down a city street. Instead, the latest sensors on Google’s cars come with 360 degree visibility and 100% attention on the road in all directions at all times. They can also track vehicles, pedestrians and cyclist from a distance of close to two football fields. Looks like they have us humans beat there.

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The Next Version of Google Glass

ben sheehy google glass servicenow tech blogGoogle Glass has not taken off like other products and services provided by Google, but that doesn’t mean they are done with it. We still see the occasional person wearing the Google Glass, but what is next?

According to TechCrunch, Google is currently working on their next version of Glass. The new version is reported to have replaced Texas Instruments for Intel. The first version of Glass had a few things that could be improved on such as longer battery life and a less bulky case. Additionally, the first device looked incredibly, as some would say, “nerdy,” or like something from the future. It is possible they would be more popular if the style were more current, or if it looked like an everyday device.

The first update since the creation of Google Glass was to make the system compatible with prescription lenses and the second update doubled the amount of RAM. While we do not know much about other updates, we do know that Glass is reported to be powered by an unknown Intel chipset. This is the first significant update to the product since 2012.

Intel has recently made moves to join the wearable, mobile chipset market, which it had been resisting previously. At last year’s International CES, Intel revealed their mobile goals and showed some wearable computing devices as demos. Later they announced the MICA, a refined, niche wearable computer. The idea of the MICA is that it is a non-computer looking computer. MICA stands for My Intelligent Communications Accessory. You can find more about this computer bracelet here. If Intel is creating the mobile chip that powers the next Google Glass, that would be a huge win for Intel, improving their reputation.

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