Automotive

Google unveils first complete self-driving car prototype

Google unveils first complete ...
Google has unveiled the first complete prototype of its self-driving car
Google has unveiled the first complete prototype of its self-driving car
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Google has unveiled the first complete prototype of its self-driving car
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Google has unveiled the first complete prototype of its self-driving car

Google has been developing autonomous car technology since 2010. Now, it has unveiled the first complete prototype of its self-driving car. The company expects the vehicle to be hitting the streets of California some time in 2015.

An early prototype of the self-driving car was shown off in May this year. In place of manual controls, such as a steering wheel, the car featured mapping systems and sensor technology that allowed it to "see" what was going on around it. There were, however, a number of features yet to be added, such as headlights.

Since then, Google says it has been working with a number of different prototype vehicles, each being used to test the different systems required by an autonomous vehicle. Some of these have included the systems required to recognize road signs and road user gestures that are used on the city streets.

These systems have now all been brought together in a first complete prototype. Although few specifications about the car have been released, it appears to sport a remodeled roof-top sensor module and newly-added indicators and headlights, as well as a lighter gray paint job.

Google says its will continue testing the vehicles with its safety drivers for a "while longer."

Source: Google

20 comments
Nairda
I see they insist on a laser ranging technology (roof), instead of experimenting with road and object recognition. This is fine as there are many hurdles to true autonomous. Just hope people don't collectively accept this tech as a final solution. What I'm getting at is that multiple LIDAR guided vehicles can be made to not interfere with each other in close proximity. But in order to penetrate through dust, rain and mineral deposits on the plastic roof shroud, the laser has to be a little stronger then your usual laser pointer. And what that leads to is a concern over laser safety. While the system might angle away from pedestrian or other driver's eyes, reflection will still occur, and when there are thousands of strikes from hundreds of vehicles to people's eyes, the accumulation can take its toll. Just seems like a liability waiting to happen unless they make wrap around laser absorbent sunglasses mandatory for everyone (unlikely)
Rigby5
Isn't it obvious that autonomous cars will never be allowed? It is not just that people enjoy driving or that a robot car would be a disaster with a power outage, but things like that they will be lose in all accident lawsuits, costing the maker billions, and will be used for terrorist attacks.
DaveWesely
Re: Rigby5 Robot cars are not necessarily electric only. In fact most of the test vehicles are not. Any vehicle can be used for a terrorist attack. The largest demand for autonomous vehicles would be for long trips, not short around town errands. Not too many pedestrians on the interstate. Nevada has already authorized autonomous cars.
Roy Gray
completely autonomous / robot car? not in my lifetime, unless we get an entire rebuild on infrastructure. interesting to see how they 'program' the car to respond to other driver human interaction / gestures...
google testing "...systems required to recognize road signs and road user gestures that are used on the city streets."
Elmer Neutzling
Does anyone REALLY WANT this technology. I know I sure don't. It is a waste of money and brain power!
Dave Andrews
Ugly vehicle, but it would probably be great for a vehicle wrap.
HappyPhil
I am looking forward to the time when I might get one of these. I can see enough room inside for my guitar and amp. Santa?
alcalde
Elmer, I chatted with someone online who is legally blind. All her life she has had to choose where she lives based on how close it was to a bus stop. She is so excited about these Google cars because they would mean that for the first time in her life she would be able to live *where she wants to*. She could live near family, friends, at the place she likes best, etc. That's something most of us take for granted.
Also think of those who are of a certain age and whose eyesight or reflexes aren't what they once were. Self-driving cars give them the opportunity to continue to be independent.
So yes, there are indeed many people who want these cars and recognize that they are a fantastic display of the power of cutting-edge science and the talent of many intelligent people to develop.
Roy:"not in my lifetime, unless we get an entire rebuild on infrastructure. "
How not in your lifetime, when you're looking at one right now? The Google test cars have already driven over 700,000 miles and been in two accidents: one was when the car was rear-ended while stopped at a light and the other was when the other vehicle ran a red light and hit it. We're not talking some exotic technology like antigravity or wormhole travel, where only theoretical ideas exist. Self-driving tech is already present and performing quite nicely during testing. It's just a matter of engineering to perfect it.
Kurtisbadical
This car reminds me of the Howard!
James Diamond
why is this not outright away saving lives.