No steering wheel! Google is to become a car maker, by building its own self-driving cars
Google has signalled its intent to become a player in the automotive market after announcing it would build its own self-driving cars.
In the past, Google has always customised cars from other car manufacturers, as part of its ongoing effort to create the perfect self-driving car.
Look Mum, No Hands
The revelation that Google could in the future compete against the likes of Ford and Toyota came after a Google demonstrated its own driverless car this week.
And the company is serious about removing the human element from its travelling creation. The Google car has no steering wheel or pedals, but it does have a stop and go button. A YouTube video reveals that the prototype car is a cute looking two-seater city vehicle, similar in size to that of Smart cars made by Daimler AG.
According to Google, its car comes with an onboard screen to display the route and boasts a top speed of 25mph (40km/h) thanks to an onboard electric motor. It is also equipped with an array of sensors mounted on the roof to allow the car’s computer to determine its location and surroundings.
The sensors can also apparently “see” several hundred metres ahead, and even 360 degrees around its location to remove any blind spots.
This type of technology would allow the car to be summoned with a smartphone application. The car would then collect a passenger and automatically drive them to a chosen location.
“Ever since we started the Google self-driving car project, we’ve been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson, director of Self-Driving Car Project in a blog post. “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.”
Google said these cars are its first fully self-driving prototype vehicles, and it plans to build a hundred of them. Later in the summer, engineers will begin testing early versions of these vehicles that retain manual controls (in case there is a problem).
“If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. We’re going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely,” wrote Urmson.
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