Google’s plans to introduce a self-driving car is hardly news, especially since the project has been in the works for quite a while now, although it was only today that Google took the wraps off their latest prototype, a vehicle which Google had made from scratch. As you can see in the image above, it definitely does not look like your conventional car, but a gondola/buggy of sorts, where the main goal is getting its passengers from A to B, without any frills.
According to Google’s Sergey Brin, “The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today. There’s not great public transportation in many public places in the United States.” Google has also removed components of what makes it a car, such as its steering wheel, an accelerator, and a brake pedal, which does sound a bit scary. Google has also abandoned the backseat, glove compartment, and stereo, which essentially makes this a box on wheels.
What makes this prototype so different from Google’s previous prototypes is that it will be completely driven by a computer. With the previous prototypes, there were humans in control where they could take over the car in any given situation, like when it veers of course or if it could be headed towards an accident. However the new design does serve a purpose, which is to eliminate blind spots and allowing it to be embedded by all sorts of sensors which should keep it on its path.
For example the new car has lasers that have a 360-degree view, which is substantially more than the 12-degree field of view found on the previous Lexus-based prototype. However before you get too excited at the idea of being able to ride this buggy of the future, it should be noted that Google has no plans to sell their self-driving cars just yet as they are still looking for partners in order to make that happen.
In the meantime Google is planning on building at least 100 prototypes over the next couple of years and getting them into the hands of volunteers. To address safety concerns, the car will only travel at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hours, the front of the car will be made with foam, and the windshield will be flexible in the event that it collides with bikes or pedestrians. What do you guys think?