In this talk, roboticist Chris Urmson cites some of the dangers drivers face — inclement weather; distractions that include answering phone calls, texting and setting the GPS; flawed, careless drivers — as well as the staggering amount of time wasted each day by drivers stuck in traffic. The solution? Not surprisingly, Urmson, who has headed up Google’s self-driving car project since 2009, says autonomous cars are the answer.
Urmson shows how driverless cars see and understand their environment — the layout of the roads and intersections, other vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, traffic signs and signals, construction obstacles, special presences such as police and school buses, and so on — and decide what action to take based on a vast set of behavioral models. It’s a fascinating car’s-eye look at the world.