Google fills patent for method to control an autonomous vehicle

Article by Christian Andrei, on December 20, 2011

A patent for a method to control an autonomous vehicle was granted to Google this week. This patent covers the ways that a vehicle can transition to the autonomous mode from being driven by humans. For instance, a car may be driven to a particular location. It would then transition to become autonomous from the presence of a visual indicator on a "landing strip" like a bar code or radio tag.

It’s possible too that a car may be brought to a driveway that was built to accommodate autonomous vehicles. This area would then be where the transition happens. Google revealed in a corporate blog post in 2010 that it has hired several of the best autonomous-vehicle engineers to improve the state of driverless cars. It doesn’t say how business is improved with this innovation.

Software engineer Sebastian Thrun said that Google wanted to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time, and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use." The Toyota Priuses were fitted with sensors and communications that send big amounts of data to Google's data centers to study and make driving decisions.

Last year, Thrun said that he has logged more than 140,000 autonomous miles. For this patent, Google engineers came up with the method for how sensors would locate a marker to switch to autonomous mode and get instructions from an Internet address through a wireless network. [source: Cnet]

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