Google has been working on the concept of driverless cars for a while, and recently it has revealed its intentions to have a car with a “friendly face” on the road within the next year. With a stop-go button but no steering wheel, pedals or other controls, the car will initially go at just 25 miles per hour – and the public has already had the chance to see and test-drive a prototype.
So far, we know that the car’s bumper will be constructed using a soft, foam-like material, and that it will seat just two people at a time. The first 100 vehicles will also be fitted with extra controls to allow test drivers to take over if there is a problem – although Chris Urmson, director of the company’s self-driving project, says these will be phased out as people become more confident using the technology.
Urmson also said that driverless cars would improve road safety, highlighting that over 23,000 people were killed in UK traffic accidents in the past year. By using laser and radar sesors to detect distance and speed, the car eliminates the chance of driver error, that statistic could potentially fall dramatically.
Professor Noel Sharkey, an Artificial Intelligence expert from the University of Sheffield, commented: “Google have just stepped into the future with their new driverless car. It is a fantastic achievement for computerised control. It is still early days but the technology is all slotting into place. Google have been buying up some of the best robotics companies in the world and this will show itself here.
He added, “The main beneficiaries of the new Google car will be the people with mobility problems, the blind, the informed, and those out for a night’s drinking or even those who do not have a driving licence.”