Multinational technology giant Google will soon gift us plebes with one of the most revolutionary constructions ever seen. Starting this summer, the company will unveil its fleet of new vehicle prototypes, releasing them to the roads of Mountain View, California, around where the firm’s headquarters are located. The prototype of Google’s self-diving car has already gone through a lengthy procedure of thoroughly rigorous testing on the confined grounds of the test track, but will, in a number of weeks, join other cars in regular traffic.
First order of business: the rules of safety for Google’s Self-driving Car
The electric cars won’t rip up the neighborhood. Each vehicle is engineered to run at a maximum speed of 25 mph, and will be equipped with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal for safety precautions. These will be utilized by (human) safety drivers onboard the cars, if necessary.
This isn’t Google’s first run with self-driving entities. In the past, it has garnered great success with its self-automated Toyota Priuses and, more recently in 2012, with the customized self-driving hybrid Lexus RX450h luxury crossover SUV. This new pod-like car will be the latest installment in Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, which was initiated in 2008 after the advent of the DARPA Grand Challenges, which encouraged the innovation of robotic vehicles. The new self-driving fleet has incorporated the same software that the Lexus vehicles use. During test runs, the new cars have accumulated nearly 1 million miles since the beginning of the project, and, most recently, have been putting in an autonomous 10,000 miles per week.
How Google’s Self-driving Car will work
All in all, this new vehicle project seems to act very much like a community car service. Passengers will use smartphones to “summon” the car for pickup, and feed in a desired destination. There are no manual control devices for passengers to use — there is simply a start button and a red “emergency” stop button. Passengers can view a small screen inside the car indicating up-to-date weather signals, the current speed of the vehicle, and a “countdown to launch” animation. When the ride is over, a message will appear on the screen, reminding passengers to take all of their belongings with them.
There may still be some challenges that Google’s self-driving car will face, including external forces like roadblocks caused by construction. Hopefully, the company will experience a successful prototype run this summer, and plan greater community engagement with small pilot programs in the future.