Google is building its own self-driving car with electric powertrain, no steering wheel

Google Self-Driving Car
By Andrew Martonik on 27 May 2014 11:32 pm
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Google is working to build its own self-driving cars, and today it is showing off prototype vehicles with no steering wheel or traditional user controls that are in the works. Announced today alongside an appearance from Sergey Brin at the Recode Conference, the official Google Blog and a new Google Self-Driving Car Project Google+ page are showing off what Google is working on as its first in-house developed self-driving vehicle.

What looks a bit like a mash-up of a Smart Car, a BMW i3 and some creative thinking, this prototype is built with off-the-shelf automotive parts and has a distinct lack of any user controls aside from a pair of seatbelts and a single button in the center console. The car is powered by an electric motor and carries two passengers at a time, using the same self-driving hardware and software that until now has been retrofitted on cars from major manufacturers.

These prototypes are speed-limited to 25 mph and are low on comforts (you can see the full exposed roll cage in the below video), simply having a compartment for the passengers' belongings and a screen showing the driving route. Google says it wants to make roughly 100 prototype vehicles of this kind with manual controls included for pilot program testing on the streets, with future fully-autonomous versions coming later, hopefully in the next two years.

Source: Google

Reader comments

Google is building its own self-driving car with electric powertrain, no steering wheel

34 Comments

I can see Google purchasing Uber in the near future. Self driving cars are here, as the video shows. Having them be legal to be on the roads nationwide is a hurdle that is probably a solid 10 years away.

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good point!
Some kind of automated taxi service. but I think it will be at least 10 more years before we see something like that in the real world..

Assuming Google voice can understand drunken slurs as you tell your car your destination.

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Where was this car when I was a young lad. Could have used it to have sex while driving instead of looking for a place. Hahaha

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I just don't want them to take my sports cars away, I love driving mine down a country road and wouldn't want a computer to take that away from me.

I love it and hope I'm around long enough to add one to my garage. But one question: How do you avoid the drunk speeding at you in his crappy pickup on the wrong side of the road? It's a popular trick in Phoenix. We had three cases of it last week.

This is great and all, but unless everyone is using self driving cars the streets will be no safer. It is very cool though!

I agree with some other posters, these being completely legal and affordable for everyone is years away.

I doubt it will ever really be safe. There will always be some crazy guy on a bicycle or a skate board, loose cows, washed out bridges, mud slides, etc. I was wondering if there could be an emergency joy stick or similar to pull the car over to the shoulder and stop in a hurry rather than trying to reprogram the GPS.

Self driving vehicles have always captured my imagination. It's interesting to watch this technology evolve.

They look like toys for children hahah . I wont trust these until they can react and think like when we drive (sober)

Would help city congestion and we have to start somewhere. Buildwise it's obviously safer than an Isetta ever was.

normally I would not like the look of this car and personally wouldn't buy a car that looks like this but I have to say it's pretty darn adorable looking, it's like something out of Cars or a Chevron commercial.

And something goes wrong and.... disaster. no steering wheel? yeah definitely asking people to be lazy and even more distracted behind the wheel. Yes i know its computer driven, call me old fashioned, but i took a driving test so i can drive and be in control... I dont know maybe I'm just not lazy and i know computers get glitches or malfunction at times

These would be great in urban centers in place of bicycle rentals. Rent a Googlemobile at one location, drop it off at another. Use it for shopping or bar hopping and authorize an extra couple buck charge to have it drive you home and return to the charging station on its own.

Lol googe car, whats next, google spaceship. If they manage to push most of the things they are working on they will be the biggest company in the world. That idea scares me.

I can see a real market for this in the future for the elderly who have to give up there license as a way to keep the freedom of mobility. I also think special needs cases could be interesting (for the blind, etc.)

Google, please bring these to Florida. We REALLY need cars that can driver the elderly around and prevent fender benders that shut down an entire street just so they can take an hour to exchange info, baking and grandkids stories. Not trying to be mean, just saying.

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I want to resist the idea of self driving cars, but the more I think about the more it grows on me. Top of the list is NOT having to find a parking space. Instead it drops me off at the door or my destination and it finds a parking spot itself. Imagine getting dropped at the Departure doors or an airport and the car find its own parking spot. When coming home when the airplane lands, fire up the smartphone and have the car make its way to Arrivals door. Same for visiting a shopping mall. Even business people can get dropped/picked up at customer's front door not worrying about finding parking.
Second if (and its a big IF) they ever let people use cars intoxicated it could reduce drunk driving accidents entirely. People will still put in the wrong address, but they would get thee safely themselves and more importantly safely for all of us.

Anyone else think of a Johnny Cab from Total Recall when you see this? All it needs is the creepy Marinette. I would opt for one of these as my primary mode of transportation.

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