Google patents autonomous car mode


Google's push towards creating driverless cars seems to have moved a step closer, as it's been awarded a US patent for a vehicle that's able to switch from a driver-operated mode to auto pilot, more or less at the push of a button.


What US patent number 8,078,349 actually describes is "An autonomous vehicle comprising: a first sensor configured to detect a landing strip responsive to the vehicle stopping; a second sensor configured to detect a reference indicator, responsive to the first sensor detecting the landing strip; an analysis module configured to identify reference data associated with the detected reference indicator, wherein the reference data comprises an internet address; a wireless unit configured to wirelessly retrieve an autonomous vehicle instruction based on at least the reference data; and, a control module configured to switch the vehicle into an autonomous operation mode, wherein the autonomous operation mode comprises the control module executing the autonomous vehicle instruction."

And breathe.

What this effectively means is that drivers will be able to direct their cars across a 'landing strip' (kind of like an on-road QR code) and, providing various systems get the go-ahead, Google would send the car's brain GPS directions telling it precisely how to get to its pre-defined destination. Darn clever, in short.

As long as we can still take over the controls when we want to, it sounds like an appealing way to alleviate the pain of some of life's duller journeys...

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  • Twincam16 16 Dec 2011

    Apologies in advance for the tin-foil hat, but this sounds dreadful.

    As soon as it's been proved that 'driving' (a government-defined concept that will boil down to 'being moved around by a car' by people who spend their entire life in London/Brussels/New York and have probably never even learned to drive) is less dangerous if humans aren't allowed to do it, expect to suddenly find the kind of driving for pleasure we enjoy almost impossible to justify in the face of the kind of legislation that could make this ongoing computerised numbing unreality process mandatory.

  • -Z- 16 Dec 2011

    Twincam16 said:
    Apologies in advance for the tin-foil hat, but this sounds dreadful.

    As soon as it's been proved that 'driving' (a government-defined concept that will boil down to 'being moved around by a car' by people who spend their entire life in London/Brussels/New York and have probably never even learned to drive) is less dangerous if humans aren't allowed to do it, expect to suddenly find the kind of driving for pleasure we enjoy almost impossible to justify in the face of the kind of legislation that could make this ongoing computerised numbing unreality process mandatory.
    How are they going to fit auto-drive to a Shelby Cobra?

  • TheHeretic 16 Dec 2011

    Who on earth draws the patent diagrams?

  • Steve126 16 Dec 2011

    If it's possible to make a car that drives itself, it must be possible to make a car that we can also drive that will take over if we are doing something that is going to result in a crash. Hopefully that will mean there will never come a time when the politicians decide we shouldn't be allowed to drive ourselves.

    I'd rather they didn't bother with any of this though.

  • TheHeretic 16 Dec 2011

    Does it mean we can sue google if there is a crash?

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