Google has been putting work into its self-driving car ambitions for years, bidding it as a way to revolutionize modern transportation: the elimination of drunk drivers, transportation for those who can’t drive, and more are all potential benefits from our automated future. In a new video dubbed ‘A First Drive’, Google rolled out a prototype vehicle equipped with the self-driving technology and used it to take outsiders — everyday folks outside of Google, that is — for a spin.
The prototype car is a two-seater with a design akin to a Smart Car and Beetle mixture, offering burnt orange leather seats and — as you might have guessed — the complete absence of a steering wheel and controls. Those invited to test the car are strapped in and taken for a drive, no interaction with the vehicle being necessary.
On the Google Blog today, the company’s Director of the Self-Driving Car Project Chris Urmson talked about the latest showcasing, saying the team started with a focus on safety and worked outward from there. The prototype cars have sensors in blind spots, the ability to detect objects more than a couple football fields away, and more.
Though one day the cars will be able to drive at rapid speeds, these first rounds of vehicles are capped at 25MPH. Furthermore, the interiors are simplistic at this point, with the cars being “designed for learning, not luxury.”
As you can see in the video, there are two buttons in the car: pressing one causes the car to start, and pressing the other causes it to stop. There are plans for 100 of these prototypes to be made, and soon testing will begin with versions offering manual controls.
If all goes as planned, Google wants to kick off a “small pilot program” in California some time in the next couple of years.
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SOURCE: Google Blog