Google self-driving car prototype ready to try road

December 22, 2014

The finalized prototype of Google self-driving car.
Google on Monday announced that the first completed prototype of its self-driving car is ready to be road tested.

"We're going to be spending the holidays zipping around our test track, and we hope to see you on the streets of Northern California in the new year," the Internet titan's autonomous car team said in a post at Google+ social network.

The prototype is a manifestation of plans that California-based Google revealed in May to build its own autonomous car minus typical features such as steering wheels.

"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," Google's Chris Urmson said in a blog post in May.

Technical specifics about the prototype were not disclosed on Monday.

For Google, the car marks a shift away from adapting vehicles made by others in its quest to pioneer individual transport that needs only a stop-and-go function.

Google said early this year that the top speed of the battery-powered prototypes will be 25 miles (40 kilometers) per hour and that they would be designed for utility, not luxury.

The blog post on Monday showed a white, rounded bug-looking vehicle.

"Weve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car-for example, the typical car parts like steering and braking, as well as the self-driving parts like the computer and sensors," Google said.

A Google self-driving car is seen in Mountain View, California, on May 13, 2014
"We've now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle-our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving."

Several automakers have been working on autonomous or semi-autonomous features for cars, such as self-parking, but no fully autonomous car has come to market.

"Self-driving cars, if widely adopted, stand to be as transformative to consumer life as the smartphone," said Mike Hudson, who tracks the automotive industry for eMarketer.

Matt Inman, the former computer programmer behind popular technology-focused humor website The Oatmeal, depicted Google's car as a hyper-cautious marshmallow in a playful post about a test ride.

"I'm ready for our army of Skynet Marshmallow Bumper Bots," the post at theoatmeal.com concluded.

"I'm ready for the future. I'm ready for the marshmallows."

Explore further: Google adds former Ford Motor Company chief to board

More information: plus.google.com/+GoogleSelfDri … rs/posts/9WBWP2E4GDu

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EyeNStein
4 / 5 (4) Dec 22, 2014
Hook a fleet of these to the "Uber" network for your daily commute and you only need a larger gas powered car for the long journeys.
It would be so wasteful to have one of these parked at home or parked at work almost all of the day, when it could be out paying for itself and continually saving fossil fuel usage somewhere else.
gkam
3.5 / 5 (8) Dec 22, 2014
This is starting in Britain already, with laws allowing them.

The detractors will fade away.
Protoplasmix
3 / 5 (2) Dec 23, 2014
The ethics behind these bad boys are going to provide quite the stage for drama.

for starters, jason millars derivation of the "trolley problem"
The solution to the trolley problem is simply to avoid the circumstance – for every scenario you can contrive there's off-the-shelf technology for it, including a $99 drone sufficiently far ahead to asses the conditions.

There will be less drama, starting with no vehicles crashing into holiday shoppers. No need for insurance. Already over 700K miles logged without an accident. In Cali, Mercedes and Audi also have permits to operate self driving vehicles. The "future of transportation" – http://www.thever...des-benz
alfie_null
not rated yet Dec 23, 2014
I'd be interested to learn of how the insurance industry views this nascent technology. Actuaries rule, in accurately determining risk.
CuriousMan
5 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2014
Actuaries will study the data sets and adjust rates as more data is available. I suspect that in time insurance rates for these cars will be ever less and less. If cars driven by humans continue to experience accidents at current rates and there is an ever smaller pool to share the risk human-driven car insurance premiums will go through the roof. When a horny teenager can get the girl without having to drive it'll be the proverbial paradigm shift.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Dec 23, 2014
I'd be interested to learn of how the insurance industry views this nascent technology. Actuaries rule, in accurately determining risk.

Liability will shift from drivers to manufacturers of the self driving vehicles, but if there are no accidents, the writing on the wall is easy to read: "Someone needs to get a real job"

There's the "social inertia" aspect – the industry doesn't want to give up easy money so they're saying anywhere from 2030 to 2050 for the change to happen... what frozen bit of time are they stuck in? See http://www.iii.or...nsurance
Protoplasmix
not rated yet Dec 23, 2014
late edit – the High-Tech Industry vs. the Insurance Industry. Nolo contendere.
Protoplasmix
5 / 5 (1) Dec 23, 2014
The solution to the trolley problem is simply to avoid the circumstance


YIKES!!!!!! rest assured, that is not a possibility without reworking the infrastructure of society from right near the beginning.
Kinda thought that was the general idea. Maybe I'm misunderstanding or oversimplifying – is the problem a machine's moral dilemma when faced with only 2 choices, both of which cause harm? A programming challenge to react to the unexpected or unpredictable?
kochevnik
not rated yet Dec 24, 2014
When a horny teenager can get the girl without having to drive it'll be the proverbial paradigm shift.
Perhaps, but suicide bombers will no longer be able to earn their 72 virgins in heaven as jihad will be automated
snoosebaum
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2014
i guess some people like driving and some don't, personally i don't want to be a vegetable inside a robot.
snoosebaum
1 / 5 (1) Dec 28, 2014
can you imagine, sitting in one of these wondering if its going to make the right move every second, either that or you go to sleep. plus its run by algo's lol! . i think it will go part way with collision avoidance systems.

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