Cute as a button and spelling doom for the enthusiast; no, it’s not the Rabbit of Caerbannog. It’s Google’s first in-house-designed self-driving car prototype, built from the ground up to deliver a seamless driving experience. But you won’t be doing the driving.
Still a prototype, and quite obviously so in many ways, the as-yet-nameless car is Google’s new testbed for its vision of a computerized, egalitarian future of transportation.
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As the video demonstrates, right now this reduces to little more than programmed parking lot rides (at a maximum speed of 25 mph) and lots of feel-good verbal dandelions. But there’s huge potential in this technology, and huge import for those who love to drive themselves.
Features? There aren’t many. Two seats, a place to put some small cargo items, start and stop buttons, and a screen displaying the route make up the extent of the cabin’s fittings. There’s no steering wheel, pedals, or any other traditional controls in the car—there’s not even a stereo.
Google plans to build about 100 of the prototypes, with the first examples entering testing with manual controls (read: human-operated). From there, the Internet giant hopes to expand to a pilot program in California sometime in the next several years.
Where it goes from there likely depends on the lessons learned, the legislative environment, and the ultimate question of whether there’s really a market for a car that drives you without your input on anything but the destination.
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