Google is now a car maker! The company unveiled a self-driving car designed not by some car company, but by the Google X labs. The company said that they are planning on building about a hundred of these vehicles. The cars are designed to look as unthreatening as possible so that people are not shocked by the sight of a driver-less car. By comparison, the big SUV that the company uses now is far more intimidating and would probably scare bystanders if it would be seen without a driver.
The new car is somewhat funny looking and resembles a golf cart in many ways. But unlike a golf cart, it has a spinning sensor on the top and small wheels pushed right to the corners. The company says that the front is designed to be particularly pedestrian-friendly so its got a foam padding material and the windscreen is made out of a flexible material. Google hopes that in the eventuality of an accident this would mitigate most of the damage to the victim. A car without a driver is certainly a scary concept for people so the idea of making it pedestrian-friendly and unthreatening seems very reasonable.
At the moment Google is working with governments around to world to make the car legal. But in order to be acceptable to the public, it would have to be significantly more safer than a regular car driven by a human being. In theory this shouldn’t be a great challenge considering that most cars are not exactly safe to begin with. Researchers say that human error counts for 95% of all traffic accidents so removing that from the equation would actually make these cars a lot safer straight away.
The company hopes that these new vehicles will be a technology test bed, which will allow people to rethink the whole idea of what it means to have a car without a human driver. The driver-less car will still feature things like steering wheels and pedals so that they can be legally road tested, but ultimately they are not required. Also, a car without a driver doesn’t occupy a parking space as it can just be summoned when needed, driver you where you want, then do the same for another person. Furthermore, they can be made a lot more smaller, and thus more fuel efficient.
There are a lot of advantages to having driver-less cars, but we’re guessing that it will take some time until the general public gets used to them. Google is looking to bring some really innovative technology to the table here, let’s hope this idea will gain momentum soon. Stay tuned for more news and updates.