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Google to Build 100 Prototype Self-Driving Cars

It’s no secret that Google has been working on self-driving cars for a while. They’ve had a couple of test cars in service that have driven over 300,000 miles without incident on public roads. At the beginning of this month we even reported on how Google had worked on the technology to allow their car to handle common urban driving issues such as lane closures and even slightly wobbly cyclists.

Google announced today that they are moving their project to the next stage by designing, building and testing 100 prototype self-driving electric cars. To begin with, the cars will have manual controls to allow the occupants to take over driving in case anything untoward happens, however the ultimate aim is to have cars without any sort of user control devices.
A prototype Google self-driving car alongside an artist’s drawing.

A prototype Google self-driving car alongside an artist’s drawing.

In a post on Google’s blog, Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, said: “It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, “What should be different about this kind of vehicle?” We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections.

“And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.”

From watching the video posted of the car on some closed streets, operating the car looks as simple as getting in, selecting a destination then pressing ‘Go’. The car does the rest.

Self-driving cars have the ability to change transportation radically. From allowing the visually impaired or those who can’t drive for other reasons to get around but also in changing vehicle ownership. A fleet of self-driving vehicles could serve many of the needs of a city or town with fewer cars than we see at the moment.
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