Go ahead and give your head a good shake.
This isn’t a dream, and I assure you, this car is real.
Last week, at a technology conference in California, Google unveiled it’s very own self-driving car. Built from scratch, the first thing you will notice when you enter the funky two seater is that there are no manual controls – no brake pedal, gas pedal, gear shift or steering wheel. It’s completely and totally autonomous, and the only thing you need to do is tell it where you want to go.
As is the case with most self-driving vehicles, the car relies on a series of sensors and special software to do all the work. Google claims the car can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially important in busy cities with lots of intersections.
Don’t expect to break land speed records, as the car is limited to 40 km/h (25 miles per hour). The interior is as exciting as the cars top speed, with little more than a set of seats, integrated role cage, and what looks like bare metal trim.
“The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that’s an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people,” said Chris Urmson, the Director of Self-Driving Car Project on Googles blog.
Google plans to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and begin testing later this summer. If all goes well, Google could run a small pilot program in California within the next couple of years.
So is the future of personal transportation closer then we think?
It quite possibly is – and that’s probably a good thing.
These vehicles have the potential to make our roads much safer, alleviate gridlock, and reduce the amount of green house gases released into the air.
Drunk and distracted driving? A thing of the past.
But in a rather selfish and individualistic way, something deep down inside of me says I’m not quite ready to give up the last bit of control and personal freedom I have to a computer just yet.