Google’s self-driving car will take to the roads in 2015 (Wired UK)


Google’s latest self-driving car prototype has headlights, but no steering wheel or pedals

Google


The self-driving, goofy-looking car with no steering wheel or
pedals that Google revealed in May is now “fully functional” and
should start testing on public roads next month, the tech giant
says. Over the past seven months, Google has made a series of
prototypes, testing different aspects of the design, from steering
and braking to the sensors and software that brings it all
together. The result, it says, is “our first complete prototype for
fully autonomous driving.”

In contrast to the
gradual approach to autonomous driving
 advocated by
automakers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and General Motors, Google is
going for
what it calls a “moonshot.”
 In the next five to 10 years,
it plans to introduce a car that’s so over the idea of human
drivers, it won’t even come with a steering wheel or pedals. That’s
the vision of this prototype, which will first be tested on a
closed track, then on public roads after the New Year. Operators
will have “temporary manual controls” and be ready to take over in
case something goes wrong.

The new version doesn’t look too different from  the one we saw in May. It’s still roughly the size of a Smart
car. It still looks like an egg with the face of a koala. The
obvious differences are the addition of real headlights and the
design of the LIDAR vision system, which now sits flush on the
roof, instead of on roof-mounted supports.

We’re still disappointed that Google didn’t take this
opportunity to create something … cooler. The advent of
self-driving cars  will wipe out many basic rules of automotive design. The most
unquestionable standards, like forward-facing seats, mirrors, and
foot-operated controls will no longer be necessary. Automakers can
go nuts. But Google didn’t go nuts. It went kinda lame.

Google doesn’t plan on producing the car itself, once it comes
time to go to market, project director Chris Urmson  told the Wall Street Journal recently.

Here’s what the prototype revealed in May looked like:


Google is making a prototype of its self-driving car that isn’t made to be operated by humans. Photo: Google

Google


This article originally appeared on Wired.com

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24 December 2014 | 10:49 am – Source: wired.co.uk

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