Google has debuted the latest prototype of their driverless car, but this one is different.
It isn’t like conventional cars and hasn’t been designed like them, though previous prototypes were adaptations of conventional cars.
According to CNN, Google started working on self-driving cars in 2005.
This prototype carries two people and can reach 25 miles per hour. The car only has a stop and go button, and it won’t have any of the conventional controls.
“They won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal … because they don’t need them,” Google said in a statement.
Though it doesn’t have these “normal” features, Google says the most important feature is its 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,” Google said.
And the car is cute, with its front is designed to look like a smiley face.
— A Googler (@google) May 28, 2014
Google is expecting to have self-driving cars on the market by 2020. To get there, they are planning to build around 100 prototypes and start testing in a couple months.
According to USA Today, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said Google is trying to re-engineer transportation.
“What I’m excited about is how we could change transportation today,” he said. “If you look at people who are too old, too young, or disabled, and can’t get around, that’s a big challenge for them.”
Brin said the cars haven’t run into any incidents so far and he hopes regulators will agree they are safe.
Google’s self-driving car project released a video of people taking their first drives in the prototype. In this video, Program Director Chris Urmson said the cars are “a chance for us to explore what does it really mean for us to have a self-driving vehicle. But in the small amount of time we’ve been working on it, we have functional prototypes, and that’s exciting.”
One woman who took a ride said that is was a “space-age experience,” while another said it would help her spend more time with her kids.
“If I had a self-driving car,” Janet said, “I could spend more time hanging out with my kids or helping them with their homework, even just tending to them, finding out how their day was and not having to wait until you get home, have dinner and all that.”
Another rider said the ride was very smooth, and it felt safe.
“There’s nothing that makes you feel the least bit threatened,” Nick said. “It’s impressive. I’m totally in love with this whole concept.”