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Google awarded U.S. patent for driverless car technology

December 15, 2011 |  1:19 pm

Google has quietly made off with a U.S. patent for self-driving cars.

Google applied for the Transitioning a Mixed-mode Vehicle to Autonomous Mode patent in May and it was awarded Tuesday. It covers a method of handing the wheel from a human driver to the self-driving car.

It involves two sets of sensors: one which identifies a "landing strip" where the vehicle stops, the other which receives data about precisely where it is and where it should go. The driverless car could get directions or driving instructions from a URL, QR code or radio link.

"The landing strip allows a human driving the vehicle to know acceptable parking places for the vehicle," according to the patent filing. "Additionally, the landing strip may indicate to the vehicle that it is parked in a region where it may transition into autonomous mode."

In June, Nevada became the first state to legalize self-driving cars, a victory for Google which has been working to put technology in the driver's seat by building cars that use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate traffic.

Google contends that computer-powered cars will drive more safely than humans. One vehicle in its automated fleet has gotten into an accident. But don't blame the technology. It was operator error.

RELATED:

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Google's self-driving car is in an accident but human was driving, company says

-- Jessica Guynn

 

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