Google’s self-driving car has no brakes, no steering wheel and no accelerator pedals. Yet it is a car. So what is its point and what does it do? Hopefully, the following FAQs will help answer your most pertinent questions.
What Is the Google Self-Driving Car?
At the moment, it is still a prototype but it is basically the only electric car on the market that does not need a driver at all. Google is involved in a five year project, which hopes to release these vehicles to the wider market. At present, it is only found around the Mountain View area in California, where the Google headquarters can be found.
What Does the Car Do?
Basically, it operates like a regular vehicle in as such that it takes people and goods from A to B, but it does so without any human intervention. A smartphone summons the vehicle and a destination is set. The vehicle has a start button, as well as an emergency stop one, as well as a screen that shows current speed, destination distance and what the weather is like. Upon arrival, the screen tells you to take your belongings. As such, it seems that Google is creating a type of driverless taxi service.
What Is it Really Like?
This is hard to answer, since Google is still being pretty tight-lipped about the details. However, we are told that it feels “non-threatening” and “smooth.” A few independent test rides have confirmed that the vehicle may look small but is actually very spacious and they compared it somewhat to a theme park ride.
Who Built the Car?
Google has built the entire vehicle. The first step was the sensors, followed by the frame, then the cabin and finally the shell. Some 100 prototypes are being constructed by a company in Detroit, but nobody knows which one.
How Does the Car Work?
The car has an electric engine that will last for around 100 miles. It is powered by software and sensors to achieve location, based on Google’s famous digital maps. Thanks to a GPS, the vehicle can be easily located and then the world around the vehicle is monitored through lasers, radar and cameras in order to take someone safely to their destination. This technology can recognize all the important elements of roads and traffic, including hazards and dangers.
How Safe Is the Car?
The new frame hasn’t been tested yet, but the older prototype has done around 700,000 miles without accidents, some of which (about 1,000 miles) were in complex traffic situations. The vehicle only goes up to 25mph, which means it is much safer for pedestrians but it also means it can’t go on major highways. Plus, it has a flexible windscreen and foam bumper to protect bodies in case of an impact. It also has seat belts and an emergency stop button in case of system failure. Additionally, the vehicle’s driving style is considerate and defensive, which means that passengers and road users are protected.
Why Is the Car Released Now?
Google feels that it is time for technology to evolve, creating something that is actually usable. The prototype vehicles will initially be used to test the software and to see just what it can and cannot do. Once that is completed, real people will start getting into the cars, using it in the same way as the Google Glass program, which demonstrates how the product is used and what needs changing.
Why Does the Car Look Cute?
The vehicle is very friendly and cute to look at. This was done intentionally, with the company trying to create something “Googley.” This will help passengers and road users to feel more comfortable. Additionally, it so happens that this is the easiest way for the sensors to work properly.
Why Is the Interior the Same as a Regular Car?
Only two passengers will be able to sit inside this car. The reason why it looks just like an ordinary vehicle mainly has something to do with safety regulations. This means that standard seat belts had to be used.
Can I Eventually Buy a Self-Driving Car?
At the moment, the goal is not to create personal vehicles. Rather, they should be shared in the same way as a taxi, or a full family vehicle. Since these vehicles are only on prototype stages, it is not clear whether or not this will eventually become a personal product as well. Google does state that it won’t have ads, which many people will be happy about.
Who Will Build It?
The technology will be fully Google. However, it is possible that vehicle manufacturers, and Google is not one of them, will purchase the technology and incorporate it into their vehicles. Hence, you may see a Fiat, Toyota or Ford self-driving car in the future.