Google’s forward-thinking and experimental Google X division has been working on self-driving cars for some time. However, at a conference in California yesterday, Sergey Brin announced that Google will start building its own self-driving cars rather than modifying vehicles built by other manufacturers.
“We’re really excited about this vehicle – it’s something that will allow us to really push the capabilities of self driving technology, and understand the limitations,” said Chris Urmson, director of the company’s self-driving project.
Google’s prototype car is nothing short of revolutionary. Contrary to the mechanics of conventional cars, Google’s car has no steering wheel or pedals; it replaces glass windows with plastic ones; has two feet of foam at the front to ensure safety; and does not have any controls apart from a stop/go button.
The car will seat two people, “propulsion will be electric,” and it will be limited to a 25mph (40km/h) for safety reasons. The tech giant said that a combination of laser and radar sensors would be used along side camera data to allow the car to drive autonomously.
Currently, Google’s robo-cars have covered 700,000 miles of public road since it began working on the vehicles in 2009. The company plans to build 200 prototype cars in Detroit and according to Urmson, “we’ll see these vehicles on the road within the year.”
While google has been pioneering self-driving technologies, it is not alone in “the driverless vision for the future.” Nissan and General Motors expect self-driving cars to be on the road by 2020. Moreover, Ford Motor Co. unveiled a self-driving prototype last year also and Tesla Motors aims to have its system handle 90 percent of driving duties by 2016.
Google expects to have the prototypes ready for public use between 2017 and 2020.
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