Google just showed off a new prototype of a self driving car, created by the company itself. The tiny two seated vehicle does not have a steering wheel nor does it feature an accelerator or brake pedal. Google stated in a blog post that “they don’t need them.” According to Google, the car will transport people to their designated destination with the simple push of a button.
Chris Ursom, the director of the Google Self-Driving Car Project stated in a blog post, “Ever since we started the Google self-driving car project, we’ve been working toward the goal of driving. Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20 minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”
As of right now, Google is planning to build about 100 prototypes. This summer, they will test early versions of these vehicles that will have manual controls. When it comes to safety features, Google designed sensors to remove blind spots. These sensors are so powerful they are able to detect objects meters away in multiple directions. However, this technology doesn’t come without compromise. The cars cannot travel at above 25 mph, which is expected as this is very new technology that could potentially be dangerous if used at high speeds.
The first pieces of information regarding Google and their self driving car initially emerged last year, when a report stated Google had negotiated a deal with manufacturers to produce a self-driving car. Unfortunately for the company, they were unable to reach an agreement with any major manufacturer, resulting in the company creating it’s own vehicle.
It was only this month that the California Department for Motor Vehicles approved new regulations for autonomous vehicle testing. As of September 16, companies will be able to test self-driving cars on the roads. However, there must always be a trained driver at the wheel in case of a malfunction. Companies will also have to have at least $5 million worth of liability insurance.
It should be noted that Google is not the first company to experiment with self-driving cars. Other car manufacturers such as Nissian, Toyota, Mercedes and Audi have all began research and development on self-driving cars.