This is a first look at an in-house designed autonomous vehicle from the tech giant.
Compared with mainstream automakers who chose big budget auto shows to debut their new concepts and prototypes, Google chose to show off their first in-house designed self-driving car prototype through a blog post. While this may not seem to communicate much serious intent behind the project, Google has been focused on developing and refining autonomous car technology for years. They’ve been behind lobbying for autonomous car laws and so far have converted a fleet of ten production cars including an Audi TT and Lexus 450h to self-driving vehicles.
However, this is the first glimpse at a Google-designed self-driving car that has been made available. And it isn’t just a static model, it is a working prototype, and the first of about a hundred to come.
It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, “What should be different about this kind of vehicle?” We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.
The above rendering shows further styling refinement and features like working headlights and a better integrated roof terrain scanner. Check out the video below to see how the car works: