Anyone driving the curves between San Francisco and Los Angeles may have recently seen a small car with a curious cylinder on the roof holding video cameras, radar sensors and a laser device to “see” other vehicles. It was harder to notice that the person at the wheel was not actually driving. The car is a project of Google, which has been working in plain view on vehicles that can drive themselves, mimicking the decisions made by a human driver. With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes wrong, seven test cars have driven 225,000 kilometres with only two human interventions. It drives at the speed limit, which it knows because the limit for every road is included in its database, and it stops for lights and stop signs.
Robot cars react faster than humans, have 360-degree perception and do not get distracted, sleepy or intoxicated, which saves lives and avoids injuries, the engineers argue. They also say that this technology could double the capacity of roads by allowing cars to drive more safely while closer together. Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption. But of course, to be truly safer, the cars must be far more reliable than today’s personal computers, which crash occasionally.
The Google research programme, using artificial intelligence to revolutionise the automobile, is proof that the company’s ambitions reach beyond the search engine business. Autonomous cars are years from mass production, but technologists, who have long dreamed of them, believe that they can transform society as profoundly as the Internet has.
I. READING COMPREHENSION
1.- Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE? Copy the evidence from the text. No marks are given for only TRUE or FALSE.
a) While testing the google car, humans never had to take control and drive it.
- FALSE: With someone behind the wheel to take control if something goes wrong, seven test cars have driven 225,000 kilometres with only two human interventions.
b) Since robot cars can be made to weigh less, they will use less petrol.
- TRUE: Because the robot cars would eventually be less likely to crash, they could be built lighter, reducing fuel consumption.
2.- In your own words and based on the ideas in the text, answer the following questions. Do not
copy from the text.
a) According to the text, what does a Google self-driving car look like?
- They´re small cars and the only special feature on them is a cylinder on top with video cameras, radar sensors and a laser device.
b) Give at least three advantages of robot cars.
- Self-driving cars are able to react faster.
- They can perceive everything around them.
- Unlike humans, these cars never need to sleep or are under the effects of drugs.
- Since they can drive more safely, they do not need to keep so much distance between them.
- Therefore, twice as many cars could drive on any road.
- These cars do not have to be as heavy and sturdy as standard cars, so they would use less petrol.
II. USE OF ENGLISH
3.- Find the words in the text that mean:
- a) more difficult (paragraph 1) harder
- b) in fact (paragraph 1) actually
- c) decreasing (paragraph 2) reducing
- d) evidence (paragraph 3) proof
4.- Complete the following sentences. Use the appropriate form of the word in brackets when
- a) Last year my neighbour BOUGHT (buy) a Google car and he HAS BEEN COMPLAINING /HAS COMPLAINED (complain) since then.
- b) According to the World Health Organization, more THAN 1.2 million lives ARE LOST (lose) in accidents every year.
- c) Nowadays, there ARE many people who would enjoy DRIVING (drive) a robot car.
- d) The robot car was invented BY Sebastian Thrun, AN engineer who works for Google.