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What goes on inside Waymo’s Secret World for Training Self Driving Cars

May 23, 2018

Self-driving cars have caused widespread wonder and have become a technological advancement that was previously considered to be far ahead of our time. These self-driving cars are aimed at providing users with convenience and comfort levels, which were previously considered impossible. They are also the solution to our increasing environmental footprint. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, transportation is responsible for most of the carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide which pollutes our air and is depleting our atmosphere. These self-driving cars have set a new standard in the automobile industry and have become one of the most revolutionizing innovations for the past decade!

However before any of these self-driving cars are released, they pass through a stringent training regime to make sure they are safe for roads and can maneuver through any given situation. Recently a self-driving car encountered a complex roundabout in Texas which flummoxed the car! This rare occasion becomes the talk of the town as many people started questioning whether these vehicles are fit for the road.  This is exactly why Waymo decided to focus on this issue by building a physical pavement at their testing facility.  In this facility, each car will be tested in real-world maneuverability and amplify simulated scenarios to test the car from different aspects. This simulated world has been dubbed the “Car craft” after the iconic game Warcraft. This virtual world has been designed to put every self-driving car through its paces by simulating driving scenarios.

What is so special about The Car Craft?

The reason why the growth of the self-driving cars has been stunted is due to safety issues. Every manufacturer would put the car through different scenarios and since these testing regimes are conducted in real life, there are very limited situations which can be presented to the car. However, through the Car Craft software, Waymo puts the driver in a virtual world where they get a firsthand experience on how the vehicle reacts to different situations.

These situations are not fabricated out of thin air and neither is the route, yes this means each intersection or signal that the car crosses during the testing regime actually exists. By taking actual routes into perspective, the effectiveness of each training regime is far more realistic. This testing regime initially began with a handful of people who drove self-driving trucks to different locations, these trucks were fully loaded with supplies. According to these people, this testing regime feels just like a video game without any non-player characters and the testing structure keeps getting modified on a daily basis. This means that everyday self-driving cars are tested through an array of scenarios and after each test, all of the data is accumulated and scrutinized to validate the efficiency of each test.  Looks like Waymo has articulated a software that will help revitalize the self-automated vehicle industry.

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