Google has been granted a patent for self-driving cars which should enable the search engine giant to develop autonomous vehicles. According to the application, the car will be controlled by a human, however when it reaches a pre-determined 'landing strip', the vehicle is able to detect is position based on a 'reference indicator'.
Google has been pursuing the idea of a driverless car for quite some time now, with the company pursuing law changes in Nevada regarding autonomous vehicles. In its last Zeitgeist, Larry Page even admitted: “It's an area that I've had some interest in since I was a grad student. It seemed pretty practical actually, I mean you think that driving a car is hard but it is not actually that hard for a computer if [it] has good data about what's about it."
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Now it seems that Page's vision is close to being realised as the US Patent and Trademark Office accepted Google's filing. Even though its 'Transition a Mixed-mode Vehicle to Autonomous Mode' application was submitted in May, it had been hidden from public view until now.
"The landing strip allows a human driving the vehicle to know acceptable parking places for the vehicle," the patent filing discloses. "Additionally, the landing strip may indicate to the vehicle that it is parked in a region where it may transition into autonomous mode."
The car could be able to recognise something as simple as a road marking or direction sign. Then the vehicle would use a GPS receiver, a number of sensors and internet data relating to landmarks to find its own location. The car could then drive to its destination based on the user's requirements.