It might look like a playmobile toy, but this cute car could be the future of sustainable road safety. Internet giant Google is the company who created this new prototype of a self-driving car. It has been long announced that Google wanted to create such a product, and it seems they are closer than ever, since after this experimental phase, Google plans to build around one hundred beta versions of the vehicle for testing this Summer.
The Google cars have a funny “cartooney” look and do not have a steering wheel, or pedals but come instead equipped with sensors and an on-board PC with a software designed to help steer clear of obstacles. The concept vehicle has two seats, a screen displaying the route and a top speed of 40 km/H. An on-board GPS helps satellites get a rough location of the car, at which point radars, lasers, and cameras take over to monitor the world around the car, in 360-degrees.
The software can recognise objects, people, cars, road markings, signs and traffic lights, obeying the rules of the road and allowing for multiple unpredictable hazards, including cyclists. The driver always has the option to bring the car to a halt thanks to the installation of an emergency stop button in the car’s console. Most of people who tried the new car described the experience as “smooth” and “nothing that feels the least bit threatening”.
Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project, said;
“the development is an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people…Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”
Google aims to develop vehicles that are safer than the ones driven by humans. This first prototype could reduce the percentage of accidents exponentially using a technology that can sense and react to things faster than humans.