Google has finally built its own car from scratch. And it looks like a gondola with wheels.
The two-seater prototype vehicle is Google’s re-imagination of what the modern automobile should look and feel like if you took the human out of the transportation equation and designed something solely to chauffeur passengers from point A to B.
“The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the inaugural Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “There’s not great public transportation in many public places in the United States.”
The car which was conceived and designed by Google, unlike the ones it previously modified lacks many of the trappings of a normal car, and that includes the three essentials: A steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake pedal.
The company that designed the world’s simplest home page also decided to lose the mirrors, the backseat, the glove compartment and the stereo.
What is left are lots of sensors, and a transplant of the self-driving software system which Google has built to use on the Toyota Priuses and Lexus SUVs. It is trained to drive on highways and city streets over the past five years.
Google says the program is currently in a prototype phase,and that it plans to build around 100 early versions of the vehicles for testing this summer. Those cars, which are reminiscent of a Fiat 500 mixed with Playmobil toys, will initially include manual controls in case something goes wrong, just like the company’s current self-driving car program. After a pilot program in California, Google says it will develop a broader program with the help of partners, presumably for commercial use.
Google’s overarching goal with the self-driving car program has been to develop vehicles that are safer than the ones driven by humans. 33,000 Americans die from auto accidents each year, with that number ballooning to 1.2 million worldwide, something Google believes it can trim by as much as 90 percent using a technology that can sense and react to things faster than humans.