Google Unveils Self-Driving Car Prototype [Video]

Google unveiled cars that can travel without a driver.

Google has been creating driverless cars for  several years, but what the Internet searching giant has demostrated so far has always been retrofits of existing cars — until now.

Google finally unveiled on Tuesday a fully autonomous self-driving vehicle, built from the ground up by Google and its partners.

Company co-founder Sergey Brin annpounced his far-going plans at Recode’s Code Conference in southern California.

Bring said to Recode editors Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher (who have tried to ride a driverless car), that there’s a safety benefit in a custom-built self-driving car.

As the self-driving vehicle doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator or brakes, it has significant amount of sensors in strategic spots than is possible in a regular vehicle. The car is also equipped with a big “stop” button. Which is more, the novelty includes internal power steering and power brakes.

“It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, ‘What should be different about this kind of vehicle?'” Chris Urmson, director of the Self-Driving Car Project, wrote in a blog post about the new car.

“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.”

He went on, adding: “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.”

As for when the self-driving vehicles — which are significantly smaller than traditional cars and include couch-like seating — might acually appear on roads, Brin announced that Google will soon test them with drivers.

“Within a couple of years, we’ll — if we’ve passed the safety metrics we’ve put in place, which is to be significantly safer than a human driver … have them on the road,” he promised.

“We’re planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and later this summer, our safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls. 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,” echoes him Google blog.

Google’s autonomous Prius and Lexus cars are much more safer than cars driven by humans, the leader of Google’s autonomous-car project claimed last year.

During a robotics conference in California Chris Urmson told reporters that the company’s self-driving cars appeared to be smoother and safer than cars driven by professional drivers, Mashable wrote.

He said: “We’re spending less time in near-collision states. Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.”

He proved his words by presenting results from two studies which examined data from Google’s cars on public roads in California and Nevada. The sudies showed that when a man was behind the wheel, Google’s cars accelerated and braked significantly more sharply than they did when driving themselves.

Which is more, the cars’ software also appeared to be better at keeping a safe distance between vehicles than human drivers could.

Share This article

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Coinspeaker Ltd.