Self-driving cars close to being reality, says Google

A future containing self-driving cars is not very far away according to internet giant Google, which has a prototype on the streets.

The search engine provider's official blog showed off the software it has created and is testing in cars in Mountain View, California, where the company is based.

Chris Urmson, director of the self-driving car project at Google, said: 'Since our last update, we've logged thousands of miles on the streets of our hometown of Mountain View. A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area.

'We've improved our software so it can detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously – pedestrians, buses, a stop sign held up by a crossing guard, or a cyclist making gestures that indicate a possible turn. A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can't – and it never gets tired or distracted.'

A self-driving car is just one of the futuristic projects Google is working on as part of the company's X Lab – which is where Google Glass, the company's wearable headset that links with your smartphone, originated.

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The technology company is also experimenting with weather balloons that contain wi-fi signal in order to bring internet access to remote parts of the world. Facebook has also announced plans for a similar project involving remotely-piloted drones.

'Our vehicles have now logged nearly 700,000 autonomous miles, and with every passing mile we're growing more optimistic that we're heading toward an achievable goal – a vehicle that operates fully without human intervention', said Mr Urmson, who claimed the company's computers were able to comfortably predict what happened on city streets.

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The self-driving car project has existed for four years, and came as a response to World Health Organisation figures which reported that more than one million people are killed in road accidents each year.

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