Anyone who has used an app to hail a taxi know that it’s almost impossible to get the pickup location right, without having to call the driver and describe the exact location where you are standing. Now imagine a future where there is no driver! How exactly are you going to convey to our Self-driving taxi where you are waiting? In addition, autonomous vehicles may not be able to stop and drive in the same way we can.
Google’s latest patent “Determining Pickup and Destination Locations for Autonomous Vehicles” addresses this challenge. The system proposed by Google will assess your input location, and if its not ideal for the Self-driving car to pick you up, it will provide you with an alternative set of suggested pickup (and drop) locations taking into account your surrounding and the optimal walking distance to the suggested pickup location. Once the user selects one of the suggested pickup locations, the system will dispatch the autonomous vehicle to the defined location. If there was ever any doubt that Google was working on an alternative to Uber, the patent certainly puts them to rest.
The technology behind autonomous cars is already there, however the practical challenges will probably take longer to address and Google’s patent clearly shows how important maps are going to address those challenges.
The full-text of the patent application paper on “Determining Pickup and Destination Locations for Autonomous Vehicles” is available here.