Google has been creatingÂ driverlessÂ cars for Â several years, but what the Internet searching giant has demostratedÂ so far has always been retrofits of existing cars â€” 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-goingÂ plans at Recode’sÂ Code ConferenceÂ 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 carÂ is also equipped with a big “stop” button. Which is more, the noveltyÂ 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 aÂ blog postÂ 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 onÂ busy streets with lots of intersections.”
He went on, adding: “And weâ€™ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, weâ€™ve designed for learning, not luxury, so weâ€™re light on creature comforts, but weâ€™ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengersâ€™ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the routeâ€”and thatâ€™s about it.”
As for when the self-driving vehiclesÂ â€” which are significantly smaller than traditional cars and include couch-like seating â€” might acually appear on roads, Brin announced thatÂ Google will soon test them with drivers.
“Within a couple of years, we’ll â€” if weâ€™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.
“Weâ€™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, weâ€™d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. Weâ€™re going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, weâ€™ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely,” echoes him Google blog.
Googleâ€™s autonomous Prius and Lexus cars are much more safer than cars driven by humans, the leader of Googleâ€™s autonomous-car project claimed last year.
During a robotics conference in California Chris Urmson told reporters that the companyâ€™s self-driving cars appeared to be smoother and safer than cars driven by professional drivers,Â MashableÂ wrote.
He said: â€śWeâ€™re spending less time in near-collision states. Our car is driving more smoothly and more safely than our trained professional drivers.â€ť
He proved his words by presenting results from two studies which examined data from Googleâ€™s cars on public roads in California and Nevada. The sudies showed that when a man was behind the wheel, Googleâ€™s cars accelerated and braked significantly more sharply than they did when driving themselves.
Which is more, the carsâ€™ software also appeared to be better at keeping a safe distance between vehicles than human drivers could.