I like the New Scientist description of the Google driverless car design, unveiled yesterday – “a bit like a Fiat 500 crossed with an oversized Microsoft mouse”.
It was revealed at the Code Conference in California and Google says it is building around 100 purpose-made self-driving cars, to add to its fleet of converted standard vehicles.
Steve Bush, our technology editor, writes:
Sensors remove blind spots, said the firm, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions. Speed in the first ones is capped at 25mph.
Although these are essentially research prototypes, they have been designed deliberately to look cute, and still have a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route, alongside two seats with seat belts.
Initial vehicles will also have manual controls for road testing.
Chris Urmson, Google’s Director of the Self-Driving Car Project, said in a blog post:
We’re now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they’ll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal – because they don’t need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. 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.