For a number of years now, Google has been working on its self-driving car project. But while all the demonstrations of the technology to date have featured modified Toyota Priuses and Lexus SUVs, the company has now announced a prototype vehicle that it has designed and built from scratch.
Unveiled at the CODE Conference by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the prototype is an extremely basic looking two-seater vehicle that operates completely autonomously without any human intervention. It doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal – software sensors do all of the work.
Google says the inside of the car has been designed for learning rather than luxury. There’s a space for belongings, stop and start buttons, and a screen that displays the route – and that’s pretty much it.
As you might expect, safety was a key concern in the design of the car. Its sensors can detect objects up to two football fields away in any direction, and for the time being at least, the speed has been capped to a maximum of 25 miles per hour.
Google plans to build around one hundred prototype vehicles, which will be tested by its safety drivers later this Summer – these early versions will feature manual controls. If all goes well, the company then hopes to run a trial program in California over a two year period, and ultimately work with partners to bring the technology to market.
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