As you may know already, Google is working on its self-driving car project since 2009 and it appears that a new phase started today as the company unveiled its own autonomous vehicle prototypes. The new vehicles are not fitted with a steering wheel or a gas/brake pedals and are powered by an electric motor that offers a top speed limited at 25 mph or 40 km/h.
Google will build around 100 test vehicles and will begin testing them this summer. Still, early versions will be fitted with manual vehicle controls and according to the official press release the models will be tested by company’s safety drivers.
Since 2009, Google says that its test fleet of autonomous managed to cover 700,000 miles. The new vehicles are about the same size of a Smart ForTwo and feature two seats and two doors.
A software controls the vehicles and do all the work for the people found inside. Safety items found on these cars include additional foam at the bumper as well as a plastic-like windshield.
"We took a look from the ground up as to what it would be like if we had self-driving cars in the world," Brin said. "We've worked with partners in the Detroit area, Germany and California," he said without giving specifics.
"On the inside, we've designed for learning, not luxury, so we're light on creature comforts, but we'll have two seats (with seat belts), a space for passengers' belongings, buttons to start and stop and a screen that shows the route-and that's about it," said Google's self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, in a blog post. [source: Google]