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Life in 360°: Take The Wheel – Or Don’t

When news outlets, technology conferences and organisations talk about developing and cutting-edge technologies virtual reality (VR) often finds itself mentioned in the mix, in more recent times augmented reality (AR) sits quite rightly alongside it in such discussions.  A testament perhaps to how immersive technologies have such a great potential to change the way we view the world in all manners of areas from education, to entertainment and to fields such as business, art and science.

WaymoIt tends to have very similar company, two technologies of which involve the humble motor car.  There’s the continued development of electric vehicles, which even compared to two or three years ago have begun to get a bit more of a foothold. With the standard-bearer for the electric battery technology arguably being Elon Musk’s company Tesla.  Then there is the technology to get us away from requiring to be behind the wheel at all – self-driving cars – or rather, autonomous vehicles.

To quote Brian Krzanich of Intel last year, “One of the big promises of artificial intelligence (AI) is our driverless future. Nearly 1.3 million people die in road crashes worldwide every year – an average 3,287 deaths a day. Nearly 90 percent of those collisions are caused by human error. Self-driving technology can help prevent these errors by giving autonomous vehicles the capacity to learn from the collective experience of millions of cars – avoiding the mistakes of others and creating a safer driving environment.”

All manner of companies are getting involved in it and it wasn’t that long ago on VRFocus we covered how NVIDIA was working on aiding the development of this technology by running it through VR thanks to the AutoSim VR Simulator. Even as recently as last Friday we brought you news about the University of Liverpool’s efforts in creating a virtual practice ground for autonomous systems called ALEAD.

Today’s 360 degree video comes from one of the companies working to make autonomous systems the technology the reality we wish it to be. That company is Waymo, previously known as Google’s self-driving car project.

Waymo - Logo GIFThe company has been working on the self-driving technology since 2009 and from November has been running a fleet of Chrysler Pacific minivans throughout the city of Phoenix. Guided by LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging), the 600 strong fleet have been giving Phoenix residents lifts – something they’re soon to start charging them for.   Now you too get the chance to see what this technology is like by taking a trip in one via 360 degree video. It’s not just that though, as Waymo also explains just how the technology works.

Check it out below.