Google has been busy building some new self-driving car model prototypes without steering wheels gas pedals or brake pedals, or the need for human intervention. Yikes.
With Google’s original self-driving cars, humans were able to take over. This takes things another step forward. The company says its software and sensors do ALL the work. Let’s hope they’re more reliable than most of the computers and software I’ve used throughout my life.
Here’s a look at some people (including a kid) riding in one of the new ones.
Just remember that when Google’s self-driving vehicles have been involved in accidents, humans were at fault. One was when a person was driving it, and the other was when the vehicle was rear-ended by another driver.
These prototypes represent the first models completely built by Google. Past models were cars created by auto manufacturers (like Toyota, Audi and Lexus), with Google using its technology for modifications.
“The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button,” says Chris Urmson, the project’s director. “And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people.”
“It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, ‘What should be different about this kind of vehicle?’” says Urmson. “We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.”
The company says it intends to build 100 prototype vehicles, and that safety drivers will start testing early versions with manual controls later this summer. It wants to launch a small pilot program in California within the next couple of years.
Image via Google