A new patent awarded to Google has revealed how the Mountain View-based technology giant plans to make its self-driving cars switch from manual to autonomous mode at the push of a button. As per details available in the patent, future users of Google's self-driving cars will be able to make the switch by pushing a large 'ON' button. However, there is no way to tell if the technology will indeed be implemented by Google or if it is just one among a large number of technological possibilities being tested by the company for its first commercial vehicle. Given that the testing of these vehicles are at an advanced stage, it is unlikely that Google would stuff its cars with new technologies until it starts work on a new prototype.
If the patented technology is implemented, drivers would be able to take much-needed rests during long drives by switching to autonomous mode when they feel tired, and vice versa. However, there are some restrictions in place to ensure that such switches wouldn't impact safety of the passengers. After a driver would push the 'ON' button, the car will scan its surroundings to ensure it is in a zone where autonomous driving would be possible and if the particular road is pre-approved for autonomous driving. If not, the car would advise the driver to either change lanes or to give up the idea. On the flip side, if a driver wants to take over and switch the car's mode from autonomous to manual, the car would prevent him from doing so in certain cases like when it is in the middle of a sharp turn or if the conditions aren't safe enough. The patented technology allows divers to regain control of their cars by engaging with accelerators or steering wheels. This is a great feature as drivers will be able to prevent any incidents caused by malfunctions in their cars' hardware or software systems.
Yet another good initiative taken by Google not so long ago is to limit the speeds of its self-driving cars to just 25 Mph. Even though Google asserts that the limit is in place because it helps it with the development process and to test its software, the slower speeds will also allow drivers to take over easily and reduce changes of heavy damage if things go south. However, in main thoroughfares and wide roads, Google has admitted that it will let the cars run at speeds of up to 35 Mph. In a recent report that Google handed over to the FCC, it was revealed that Google will begin testing its cars in four new cities in the U.S. along with the testing radius in each of these cities. With greater reach and with added knowledge of traffic conditions in new cities, Google's self-driving cars will be able to adapt quickly to local conditions once the first commercial versions are put on sale.