Inside Silicon Valley's secretive test track for self-driving cars
We're at the Concord Naval Weapons Depot.
This is in Concord, California, bedroom community of San Francisco.
In fact during the Cold War, this place would have ranked just behind France as a nuclear power by warhead count.
That's all been decommissioned.
And now something of a different type of intrigue takes place here.
Teaching self-driving cars how to drive in the real world.
Now they call it momentum stations.
Momentum station is a 2,100 acre test city with 20 miles of roads, dozens of intersections and lots of real, if decrepid, buildings.
All of it on county land, but still secured by the military.
Car makers like the fact the roads are rough.
The lane lines in need of a re-stripe.
That's great practice for a car learning to drive itself in the real world.
And the part nicknamed Bunker City, that's comprised of 100 empty weapons bunkers, with a natural grid of streets between them.
One part could be set up as left hand drive America.
Another as right hand drive Australia.
Ninety nine percent of the time when we drive on the roads, it's easy driving.
One percent of the time, something unusual happens.
So, by testing at GoMentum Station, we're able to stage those 1% situations, a ball running across the road, or a child coming out from between cars, we're able to test those unusual situations in a safe and secure environment.
Now how these vehicles see their way around Momentum Station is many sensors.
Here is the high resolution GPS antennae to make the mapping really precise.
Up here on the roof is a Lydar.
This does contour mapping with a spinning sensor that sees shapes.
In the world around it and then cameras have their own unique ability to not just tell what's out there but where something is.
But what's also being tested here is the early stages of V2V.
Vehicle to vehicle communications or V2V is vehicles.
Speaking or talking directly to other cars, ten times a second, basic information, how fast am I going, what heading am I on, is there an aspect of the vehicle in motion that needs to be transmitted to another car.
And what that does, it allows drivers to be warned, but it also allows vehicles to automatically avoid collisions.
Honda and Acura engineers are here now.
But GoMentum Station would like to add more curious geeks, from vehicle makers to those who may be one one day.
Google, Apple, other manufacturers have approached us and we've taken a look at maybe partnering with these companies.
To begin their testing here, at least in California [INAUDIBLE] at the [UNKNOWN] station.
For their part Honda Accura says they'll have this kind of technology on freeways in early stages by 2020.
And perhaps just 20 years later Honda and Accuras that are crash free as a result.
In [UNKNOWN] California, Brian Cooley, CNET.com for CBS News.
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