Google Debuts Driverless Car

By Paul Riegler on 28 May 2014
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Driverless cars will soon be on public streets in the Bay Area

Driverless cars will soon be on public streets in the Bay Area

Google, a company better known for its search engine than automotive prowess, announced plans to build its own driverless car Tuesday.

The company plans to eventually manufacture such autonomous vehicles without traditional driver controls, such as an accelerator pedal, gear shift, brake, and steering wheel, with the only controls being a red “e-stop” button for panic stops, and a separate start button.

The initial batch of 100 will, however, have these items in order to comply with legislation in California and other states that requires their presence.

Google said its goal is “bringing this technology to the world safely.”  It also said that its testing had revealed that it may not be safe to leave conventional controls in driverless cars because human intervention in an emergency had been unpredictable and potentially dangerous

While some vehicles on the market today have limited autonomous features, such as radar cruise control, that can safely bring a car to a complete stop and also maintain pace with traffic at varying speeds, Google’s approach is a completely different philosophy.  Audi, BMW, Mercedes, and Volvo all offer a variety of features that come close to the concept of a driverless car, but do not eliminate the driver or traditional controls.  This includes several options that allow cars to drive themselves in heavy traffic.

The vehicles will have sensors that monitor conditions in all directions, and the front of the car will be made from a foam-like material to avoid injuring a pedestrian if the computer fails.  The car itself looks like an Isetta from the mid-1950s.

It has two seats and a screen that displays the route, among other data, and is capable of reaching 25 mph (40 km/h).

In recent years, Google has been testing traditional cars retrofitted with its own technology and an operating system called Google Chauffeur.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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