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Google gets patent for driverless car in the US

US: A US patent for self-driving cars has been awarded to Google. It explains how the car would know when to take control, where it is located and which direction to drive in.
The application for Transitioning a Mixed-mode Vehicle to Autonomous Mode was applied by Google in May, 2011, but had been hidden from public view until this week. This application is based-on two sets of sensors. The first identifies a “landing strip” when the vehicle stops. This then triggers the second set which receives data informing the machine where it is positioned and where it should go. “The landing strip allows a human driving the vehicle to know acceptable parking places for the vehicle,” the patent filing explained. “Additionally, the landing strip may indicate to the vehicle that it is parked in a region where it may transition into autonomous mode.”
According to Google, the landing strip could simply be a mark on the ground, a sign on a wall, or lines or arrows showing where the vehicle should be parked. To detect which landing strip it has been parked at, the car activates a GPS receiver to find its rough location and then use its sensors to detect trees, foliage or other known landmarks to determine its exact position.
Alternatively the filing says the car could read a QR code – the popular two-dimensional square barcode – which would have details about the landing strip’s location.
The patent explained that GPS receivers are sometimes only accurate to about 30ft (9.1m). However, if the vehicle can monitor its path and knows where it started from, it can simply be told to drive set distances from that point, adjusting its direction at the appropriate places.
The patent described how data provided at the landing strip could also tell the vehicle to look up an internet address which would let it know if it needed to drive itself to a repair shop, or simply move to another parking bay to ensure a hire company had its cars spread evenly across its various pick-up spots.
Source: BBC