Google’s first completely self-driving car is real, and it looks incredibly happy to be here.
This is the first truly self-driving car from the search engine company and whilst it won’t be going on sale, this is certainly the biggest leap yet towards having robot cars that will drive for you.
Don’t let its happy demeanour fool you though, this Google Car is packed to the roof panels with state-of-the-art sensors, some of which will be able to detect objects from as far as two football fields away.
The car is an amalgamation of all the lessons learnt from Google’s first self-driving cars.
Of course you won’t notice any of these sensors at work because... well, that’s the point. Instead you’ll find two seats, enough room for a weekend bag and a large touchscreen display showing you where you’re going.
Google plans to build a little over 100 of these cars with some including conventional steering controls (just in case) whilst for the real daredevils there’ll be several variants with just ‘stop’ and ‘start’ buttons.
For the moment the Google car will be about as dangerous as your average shopping trolley with a top speed of just 25mph whilst the body will be built with pedestrian safety in mind so expect plastic windscreens all round.
Why is Google doing this? Well according to its own blog, Google isn’t just doing it for the kudos.
"Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History."
Whilst the technology is clearly getting closer to being a practical reality there are obviously some pretty clear ethical issues such as: ‘Should a car be programmed to kill you, if it saves more lives?’.
To prevent tackling these moral headaches Google’s initial run of testing will be at the Google Campus, away from prying eyes and American road laws. This is unlike Volvo, of course, who are already planning to fill Stockholm with driverless cars.