A handful of the world’s top tech companies are in a furious race to bring the same technology to the mass market, self-driving cars. And, the one that does it first, without any doubt, stands to change the future of American transportation forever.
So far, all those driverless cars have been tested. However, the complicated algorithms behind the game changing technology have yet to beat one of the most confusing challenges, the urban infrastructure. And as usual, Google is taking the lead to solve the problem in its very unique way. Waymo, the self-driving project founded by Google’s parent company Alphabet, built an entire fake city to test its driverless cars.
Named Castle, this fake city is basically a fenced-off plot of a land in California, 100 miles east coast of Silicon Valley. It was named after the Castle Air Force Base, which used to operate there.
To give it a look of urban infrastructure, engineers have constructed every kind of driveways and roads, as well as intersections. However, there are no buildings that you would typically find in an American city, except for the pink Air Force dormitories, which remain from the old base.
It’s a big challenge for Google, with three out of four Americans concern about whether the fully autonomous cars are safe. Just a single high-profile incident could entirely ruin the public image of this technology. The engineers decorate this fake city using cones, mannequins, and even other cars for the test. Besides, this test involves real human, known as professional pedestrians.
However, whether the test is successful or not, will be known when those self-driving cars will be on the real road to real cities.