Data from self-driving cars will set us free, says Urmson

Posted Nov 3, 2013 by Kirstin Stokes Smith
Data from Google’s autonomous-car project show that self-driving cars are not only better than humans in driving situations, they can protect drivers from moving violations too.
Google driverless car operating on a testing path.
Google driverless car operating on a testing path.
Wikimedia Commons/Flckr user jurvetson: Steve Jurvetson
These self-driving Prius and Lexus cars from the Google project have been gathering data for Google from open road rides since 2010. According to Google, these self-driving cars are safer and smoother on the road than human drivers.
Using a human in these self-driving cars has given Google an opportunity to run human versus computer tests. Their data reveals that the autonomous pilot has smoother braking and acceleration, and safer distance between cars, reports Auto Blog Canada.
Director of the project, Chris Urmson, presented these results at the Robo Business conference in Santa Clara, California, Oct. 25. His presentation focused on results from two studies of data taken from Google’s open road rides on public roads in California and Nevada, reports MIT Technology Review.
“We’re spending less time in the near-collision states,” Urmson told MIT Technology Review, adding, “Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”
The technology in the autonomous cars also allows drivers (and insurance companies) access to an instant replay of events when accidents occur. Urmson showed those in attendance at the robotics conference data from a Google car that had been rear-ended in traffic. The Google team was able to analyze an annotated map form the car that revealed the Google car had arrived at a complete stop before it was hit by the other vehicle, reports MIT Technology Review.
Urmson told attendees of Robo Business that the Google system would make unreliable witnesses obsolete, "We don’t have to rely on eyewitnesses that can’t be trusted as to what happened,” Urmson told MIT Technology Review, adding “The data will set you free.”