Google Robot Cars are Coming!

Google Robot Cars are Coming!
by Daniel Nenni on 05-30-2014 at 10:30 am

Paul McLellan and I attended the 2014 Embedded Vision Summit in Silicon Valley this week. The most interesting session for me was on the new Google car that was announced earlier in the week. But first, to set the stage, let’s look at a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that shows motor vehicle crashes had an $871 billion economic and societal impact on U.S. Citizens, which is the equivalent of 1.9 percent of the $14.96 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010.

NHTSA’s new study, The Economic and Societal Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2010 cites several behavioral factors as contributing to the huge price-tag of roadway crashes based on the 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles that took place in 2010. Key findings include:

  • Drunk Driving: Crashes caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol accounted for 18 percent of the total economic loss due to motor vehicle crashes and cost the nation $49 billion, an average cost of $158 for every person in the U.S.
  • Speeding: Crashes involving a speeding vehicle traveling over the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions accounted for 21 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $59 billion in 2010, an average cost of $191 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $210 billion or 24 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.
  • Distraction: Crashes involving a distracted driver accounted for 17 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $46 billion in 2010, an average cost of $148 for every person in the U.S. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $129 billion or 15 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.
  • Pedestrians and Bicyclists: Crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists accounted for 7 percent of the total economic loss and cost the nation $19 billion in 2010. Including lost quality of life, these crashes were responsible for $90 billion or 10 percent of the overall societal harm caused by motor vehicle crashes.

The safety issue is near and dear to my heart as I was run down while riding my bike by a distracted driver and left for dead on the side of the road. Thankfully first responders happened by shortly thereafter and I lived to ride again.

The thing I love about Google is that they thrive on disrupting Big Industry and make quite a large amount of money in doing so. They certainly changed the search and the advertising industry similar to the way ARM brought Intel to its knees with low power/low cost processors enabling the mobile devices that have displaced traditional PCs. Apple is also one of my favorite disrupters.

The Google presenter was Nathaniel Fairfield. Nathaniel has a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie Mellon is known for robotics which is what we are really talking about here. Paul or I will write about this in more detail when the slides are available but this infographic is a good start:

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