Google’s self-driving car prototype: no steering wheel, brake, or accelerator

May 30, 2014

A very early version of Google’s self-driving car prototype vehicle and an artistic rendering  (credit: Google)

Google is exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like without a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal. “Our software and sensors do all the work,” says the company.

The early prototypes have sensors that remove blind spots, and 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. They’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph.

On the inside, they’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.

Google is planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and later this summer, Google’s safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls. A small pilot program is planning in California in the next couple of years.

Updates: the new Google+ page.

Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of our project, because we think this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can’t drive. We’re now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves—just push a button and they’ll take you where you want to go! We’ll use these vehicles to test our software and learn what it will really take to bring this technology into the world. — Google