Automotive

Google takes its first 100 percent self-drive car to the streets

Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
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Google has been experimenting with its autonomous driving technology since 2010, which would allow cars to drive themselves
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Google has been experimenting with its autonomous driving technology since 2010, which would allow cars to drive themselves
Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
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Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
The prototype car accommodates for two passengers and even a guide dog
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The prototype car accommodates for two passengers and even a guide dog
The prototype car is missing quite a few of the standard features you'd expect to see in a car, such as a steering wheel, mirrors or breaking and accelerating pedals
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The prototype car is missing quite a few of the standard features you'd expect to see in a car, such as a steering wheel, mirrors or breaking and accelerating pedals
Making of Google's self-driving prototype
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Making of Google's self-driving prototype
The car features crash protection for both its occupants and pedestrians, including a foam exterior and flexible windshield
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The car features crash protection for both its occupants and pedestrians, including a foam exterior and flexible windshield
The Google car comes fully equipped with special software and sensors that feed information into an onboard computer, which then drives the car
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The Google car comes fully equipped with special software and sensors that feed information into an onboard computer, which then drives the car
Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
8/9
Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
Google has plans to build a further one hundred self-drive cars within the year, with safety tests to commence over the Summer
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Google has plans to build a further one hundred self-drive cars within the year, with safety tests to commence over the Summer

Google has revealed its first self-driving car prototype, which as you guessed requires no driver. The prototype accommodates for two passengers and is missing quite a few of the features you'd expect to see in a standard car. With no need for a steering wheel, mirrors or braking and accelerating pedals, the car comes fully equipped with special software and sensors that feed information into an onboard computer, which then drives the car.

Google has been experimenting with autonomous driving technology since 2010, which allows cars to drive themselves. In the past the company has experimented with retrofitting ordinary cars with video cameras and radar sensors, linked to a detailed mapping system, which allows the car to navigate through urban streets and traffic without the assistance of a driver. Now the first completely new build self-driving prototype has been developed.

Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver
Google has revealed its first self-drive vehicle build, which as you guessed requires no driver

Focusing on safety, Google's self-driving prototype features sensors that can "see" beyond blind spots and detect other vehicles, objects, pedestrians and landmarks within a 360 degree radius that spans approximately the length of two football fields.

"In a normal car there’s power steering and power brakes, and if the power steering fails, as a strong person you can use your muscles as a fallback to still steer the vehicle", Google's Chris Urmson told re/code in a recent interview. "In our car there is no steering wheel so we have to design really fundamental capabilities. So we have effectively two motors and they work so if one of them fails the other can steer, so the car can always control where it’s going, and similar with brakes."

The car also features collision protection for both its occupants and pedestrians, including a foam exterior and flexible windshield. During the testing phase of this new technology, Google has capped the vehicle's maximum speed to 25 mph (40 km/h) in order to minimize any potential danger.

The interior of the vehicle has also been kept simple and practical for testing purposes. There are two comfortable passenger seats, with seatbelts and spacious leg room; a small storage compartment, stop and start buttons positioned in the center console and a navigation screen displaying the planned journey.

The prototype car accommodates for two passengers and even a guide dog
The prototype car accommodates for two passengers and even a guide dog

Google has plans to build a further 100 self-drive cars within the year, with safety tests to commence over the (Northern Hemisphere) summer.

"If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years," says Google. "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."

Check out the new Google self-driving car in the video below.

Source: Google

A First Drive

19 comments
Mzungu_Mkubwa
You'd think that if they were going to put a face on the front, the least they could do was make it smile, at least a little bit... (as it drove you helpless to your fiery, mangled-metal doom)
BigGoofyGuy
I think that would be great for gated communities and for in town / city driving where one would not go fast. It would be great for programs / businesses like ZipCar since the car drives itself and one would not have to worry about the driving record of the customer. It reminds me of a simple version of the Smart Fortwo. In its current form, I don't really see a market for it for individuals, IMO.
DLK811
This is a step or a entire level up that Google NEEDED to make. Without it people are skeptical and scared of cars that offer automated driving. Making laws about how much computers can do and how much humans can withdraw from the driving experience. This is the future, like it or not, but you need to see it to accept the next move toward it. It will be a huge hit when it happens because of the time people will have to be on their phones/tablets while riding in their OWN vehicle to where they want to go. Its just a matter of time... The time being how long it takes people to accept and get over technology doing what used to make them feel in control of.
Earleen
Sorry, MzunguMkubwa, there can be an enormous market for this. The elderly often need family members to drive them to destinations. The elderly often go blind. In each of these circumstances, independence can be maintained or regained. With our huge Boomer generation aging, it will be awesome! Wouldn't the postal person love to have this gizmo. I can think of a ton of uses. I appreciate Google for their speed and attention to the future. I do wonder how this delightful advance will work in rain, snow and ice. The article doesn't mention fuel, so I'm thinking it must be electrical? Thanks for this article Gizmag!
Daishi
I like that Google spends money on research like this. I'm still a bit skeptic on driverless cars but its clear they are making progress. When was the last time a company like Oracle did cool stuff like this with their massive pile of profits? I think Google Ventures is an investor in Uber cab service. The coolest things about this is you might not need to actually own one, you could just flag it down through your cell phone and have it drive you where you need to go.
Julie Long
Very cool.
The Skud
No matter what they claim, I would still at least want the feeling of a little control via an emergency steering wheel! And a brake pedal. People are starting to accept auto braking systems, but I don't know . . It is no use having a "stop" button on the dash if it decides destination reached is halfway up a on-ramp or something.
nutcase
It's inevitable the petrol-heads will make this a target of ridicule and even worse, they will learn driving strategies to outwit the google-mobile. There will need to be legislation designed to give driverless cars the advantage they deserve.
GeoffG
I wonder how it will handle those split-second decisions humans have to make, such as a person or dog suddenly stepping into the road in front of you. Only the other day I avoided running into a fox crossing a 3-lane motorway in the daytime. I had to brake slightly and swerve slightly, whilst observing cars in both lanes close behind me. I wonder whether an automatic system could handle all the necessary inputs simultaneously.
Threesixty
This is for all the people who cannot react to multiple inputs within 0.3sec and wish to be safe and cuddly in a muppetmobile while they surf facebook and twitter. Google hits the nail fair and square because muppets are where the moneys at. Next step is to entice the sub-0.3'ers; and these people need the opposite of safe and cuddly. They will go for something that surpasses the native ability of a formula1 champ, in something that does not look like a muppet.