Google has revealed the car which it believes will be the future of transport in the 21st century. Having been working with self-driving cars now for several years, the company has finally revealed its own self-driving car. While in the past they had managed to retrofit pre-existing vehicles with their self-driving technology, this new vehicle has been designed completely in-house by the company.
From the outside it looks something like an old Volkswagen Beetle, albeit if it was rendered in a children’s cartoon. It features seamless curves, a capsule-like exterior and windscreen, and of course, a large imaging array mounted on the roof. Designed to exude harmlessness, the car also features a rather comical smiling ‘face’ on its front.
The vehicle has no steering wheel, no accelerator and, shockingly, no brake pedal.
Its most radical departure from a standard car however is in the interior. The vehicle has no steering wheel, no accelerator and, shockingly, no brake pedal. Instead, the vehicle features just a single on/off button, as well as a screen which will show the route of the car. This first version of the car contains just two seats, and has a minimalist interior which Google claims is “designed for learning not luxury”.
Under the hood, the car is powered by a plug-in electric motor, further advancing the vehicle’s futuristic feel. This motor initially is being capped at a top speed of 25mph (40km/h) during the testing phase, in the interests of safety.
While the current vehicle is only a prototype, it has been built using off the shelf parts, reducing the cost of fabrication considerably. Google has plans to manufacture 100 of the first version of the car for testing purposes, before hopefully refining the design, and scaling up production for the eventual release of a commercial vehicle.
Google’s desire to remove humans from the process of driving is driven by a desire to reduce the road toll. Globally, car accidents claim the lives of over a million people per year, and the vast majority of these crashes are caused by human error. Whether people are willing to give up control of their vehicle to a computer in exchange for increased safety however, is a question that we will have to answer now sooner than later thanks to Google’s advances.
[Lower Image: Google]
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