Google’s self-driving cars always had a safety net – there was a steering wheel and at least a brake pedal just in case manual control was necessary. Now, the search engine is ditching those archaic mechanics for its new prototype cars.
“They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don’t need them,” says Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project. “Our software and sensors do all the work.”
Google says these prototype vehicles were designed with safety in mind, with sensors that can detect objects to a distance of “more than two football fields in all directions” – that’s like half of Dubai Mall. Maybe.
“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,” Urmson adds. “If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years.”
Google has released a short video of passengers taking the new koala-inspired cars for a ride. From a design perspective, the car is entirely minimlistic – it has two passenger seats, start and stop buttons, and a screen that displays the route and other information.
Considering the car relies entirely on software and sensors to drive around town, will you ever prefer it over vehicles to travel? Let us know in the comments below!