Google Reveals Its Electric Self-Driving Car Prototype

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Google Reveals Its Electric Self-Driving Car Prototype

Google's self-driving car is electric, has no pedals, no steering wheel, and can be hailed like an automated taxi.

Google has unveiled the official prototype for its self-driving car initiative, and it looks like something straight out of the future. No steering wheel, no pedals, and 100% electric - the car will work like a kind of automated taxi that users can "call" to pick them up, and drive them to their location.

"We're now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they'll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal... because they don't need them," explained Google in an official blog post. You can check out the car in action in the video to the right.

Google believes that its cars will make the road safer for everyone by removing the human element entirely. "We started with the most important thing: 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," it explained. On the downside, the cars will initially be capped at 25 MPH.

"Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can't keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History."

This sounds and looks fantastic - the ability to have my car "pick me up" from a night out drinking without having to worry about an expensive taxi fare would be great, however, I'd like for there to be some sort of I, Robot-style manual override so I can still drive by myself if I wanted to.

Source: Google

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An interesting concept, but it just seems insane to climb into a vehicle without the option of manual control. I am certainly not capable of such levels of trust...

Their safety record so far is pretty okay: 2 accidents since the start of testing, neither of them caused by the automatic driving. A self-driving car is an inherently scary idea but for now it seems they're doing a good job. Hopefully it stays that way.

*takes one look at the car* BWAHAHAHAAAAAA AHHHH OH MY GOD THAT THING LOOKS SO SILLY!!! i rely want to take you seriously googe i rely rely do and i think that this is an awesome idea but dear lord do you need some help in the design even "the homer" would be better than this.

RedBackDragon:
*takes one look at the car* BWAHAHAHAAAAAA AHHHH OH MY GOD THAT THING LOOKS SO SILLY!!! i rely want to take you seriously googe i rely rely do and i think that this is an awesome idea but dear lord do you need some help in the design even "the homer" would be better than this.

for being an electric car without a steering wheel and pedals that can drive itself form point a to point b, and being a prototype?

what the hell did you expect? a prius lookalike?

OT: I can see this having a large audience of disabled and elderly people that cant drive themselves due to medical or physical reasons.

of course there will be the dirty hipster who will get one ironically because driving is too mainstream.

Kalezian:

RedBackDragon:
*takes one look at the car* BWAHAHAHAAAAAA AHHHH OH MY GOD THAT THING LOOKS SO SILLY!!! i rely want to take you seriously googe i rely rely do and i think that this is an awesome idea but dear lord do you need some help in the design even "the homer" would be better than this.

for being an electric car without a steering wheel and pedals that can drive itself form point a to point b, and being a prototype?

what the hell did you expect? a prius lookalike?

OT: I can see this having a large audience of disabled and elderly people that cant drive themselves due to medical or physical reasons.

of course there will be the dirty hipster who will get one ironically because driving is too mainstream.

I'd get one because I have more trust in a machine than myself when it comes to driving a vehicle :P so hipster!

Whispering Cynic:
An interesting concept, but it just seems insane to climb into a vehicle without the option of manual control. I am certainly not capable of such levels of trust...

ever been on a plane ? or a train ? or a ship ? you've probably already been conveyed somewhere by "a robot".

Kalezian:

of course there will be the dirty hipster who will get one ironically because driving is too mainstream.

ahem...you could, one supposes, crawl into this thing completely rat arsed after a night out and say "hoooome" and it would drive you home...legally...and without giving you a hard time for making a mess of the upholstery and/or waking it up at 4am...i predict widespread alcoholism as a societal result :P

This, ladies and gentlemen, is progress. Really neat progress I might add!

Still, I'd be too worried of an accident to get one myself (Until all the Bugs have definitely been worked out or a majority of cars are now Self-Automated). But this is an awesome step in the right direction.

Probably a really good idea to use one of these but they really need a new look.

This is really cool. Self-driving cars will have to be the way of the future. They're simply too useful as if we all had a personal chauffeur. From shuttling people who can't drive to any other number of things, this is necessary.

I don't like there being no steering wheel or pedals. I feel like there must be situations where you need it (like if a bird hits that spinning thing or branches or anything else).

QuadFish:
Their safety record so far is pretty okay: 2 accidents since the start of testing, neither of them caused by the automatic driving. A self-driving car is an inherently scary idea but for now it seems they're doing a good job. Hopefully it stays that way.

It's actually perfect as long as they really weren't caused by the auto feature.

That's awesome. Being able to play 3DS and do other stuff while driving would be pretty great. I'd be pretty interested once they get the top speed to a reasonable level.

It's the future, for sure. But I don't know how successful they could be without insane infrastructure investments. I understand the natural fear of not being in control but it's more than a fair trade off if the other drivers aren't either.

I look at the front of the car and think that it's had a truly horrified experience. It's like it's thinking to itself "I have seen some shit, people..."

Next prototype update needs to be a Johnny Cab.

image

This technology would be amazing if they can perfect it though. Would give anything to be able to just sleep and chill out when traveling to and from work.

I bet there'd be all kinds of other unforeseen benefits like huge drops in people's stress levels.

I don't really care much for driving and jump at every chance to just lazily sit in the passenger seat, so this is like a dream come true.
There should maybe be some kind of emergency manual override though.

I love the idea of an automated cab I can hail, pay a small fee and get anywhere in the city. If they could get the things doing 65, I'd never drive to/from work again. As for trusting a machine to do the driving, I'll trust it far faster than I'll trust a human. People are awful, AWFUL drivers even when sober and paying attention. They have terrible, impatient habits and shitty reaction times. I'll take the machine every time.

It looks like one of Robocop's buttocks.

Seriously though, even if the tech is sound, I wouldn't get in. It's like what they said on Top Gear. "Half of all plane crashes are pilot error. And planes can take off, fly and land themselves, so if you took away the pilot, logically, the number of crashes would half. But would you get in a plane with no pilot?" (at this point the general consensus was no).

On slightly related news, in Finland there is actually talks going about changing some laws to allow use of fully utomated vehicles in some areas.
Proponents are hoping it would bring in some tech industries into the country, as well as help the disabled and elderly to move about more freely.

Pretty cool, I could see this becoming a standard for inner city travel.

ambitiousmould:
It looks like one of Robocop's buttocks.

Seriously though, even if the tech is sound, I wouldn't get in. It's like what they said on Top Gear. "Half of all plane crashes are pilot error. And planes can take off, fly and land themselves, so if you took away the pilot, logically, the number of crashes would half. But would you get in a plane with no pilot?" (at this point the general consensus was no).

I would totally get in a plane that did not have a pilot if it was safer. But that logic is really flawed as it fails to take into account plane crashes avoided by the pilot that would have resulted from hardware error. Instruments can fail and pilots are able to make up the difference with the ability to adapt. I would prefer an automated plane with an optional manual override with a trained pilot who could take over if needed.

However, cars are not planes, driving is not flying, and the average driver is not a pilot. The primary reason a pilot is needed is for complex adaptation to unexpected situations. The situations that arise in driving are much simpler to resolve and the average driver is significantly less skilled than the average pilot. Everyone can drive, and that is the big problem. Everyone sucks at driving and they cause all sorts of easily avoided accidents.

So the sooner these things replace normal cars the better.

DrOswald:

ambitiousmould:
It looks like one of Robocop's buttocks.

Seriously though, even if the tech is sound, I wouldn't get in. It's like what they said on Top Gear. "Half of all plane crashes are pilot error. And planes can take off, fly and land themselves, so if you took away the pilot, logically, the number of crashes would half. But would you get in a plane with no pilot?" (at this point the general consensus was no).

I would totally get in a plane that did not have a pilot if it was safer. But that logic is really flawed as it fails to take into account plane crashes avoided by the pilot that would have resulted from hardware error. Instruments can fail and pilots are able to make up the difference with the ability to adapt. I would prefer an automated plane with an optional manual override with a trained pilot who could take over if needed.

However, cars are not planes, driving is not flying, and the average driver is not a pilot. The primary reason a pilot is needed is for complex adaptation to unexpected situations. The situations that arise in driving are much simpler to resolve and the average driver is significantly less skilled than the average pilot. Everyone can drive, and that is the big problem. Everyone sucks at driving and they cause all sorts of easily avoided accidents.

So the sooner these things replace normal cars the better.

Yeeeaaaah... actually flying is a lot easier in most ways. You ever look up and see all those obstacles in the sky? The dogs? The little kid on a bicycle coming out of a blind alley? No?

Right the sky is pretty much empty. That's why robots have been flying planes for many years already, and they're still trying to make the car adaptive enough for the real world.

And here's the damn question I have been asking since I first heard about this years ago, and which NO NEWS STORY HAS AS YET EVEN BOTHERED TO ADDRESS: if one of these cars does get in an accident who the fuck is legally at fault? The manufacturer? The idiot taking a nap inside?

Dimitriov:

DrOswald:

ambitiousmould:
It looks like one of Robocop's buttocks.

Seriously though, even if the tech is sound, I wouldn't get in. It's like what they said on Top Gear. "Half of all plane crashes are pilot error. And planes can take off, fly and land themselves, so if you took away the pilot, logically, the number of crashes would half. But would you get in a plane with no pilot?" (at this point the general consensus was no).

I would totally get in a plane that did not have a pilot if it was safer. But that logic is really flawed as it fails to take into account plane crashes avoided by the pilot that would have resulted from hardware error. Instruments can fail and pilots are able to make up the difference with the ability to adapt. I would prefer an automated plane with an optional manual override with a trained pilot who could take over if needed.

However, cars are not planes, driving is not flying, and the average driver is not a pilot. The primary reason a pilot is needed is for complex adaptation to unexpected situations. The situations that arise in driving are much simpler to resolve and the average driver is significantly less skilled than the average pilot. Everyone can drive, and that is the big problem. Everyone sucks at driving and they cause all sorts of easily avoided accidents.

So the sooner these things replace normal cars the better.

Yeeeaaaah... actually flying is a lot easier in most ways. You ever look up and see all those obstacles in the sky? The dogs? The little kid on a bicycle coming out of a blind alley? No?

Right the sky is pretty much empty. That's why robots have been flying planes for many years already, and they're still trying to make the car adaptive enough for the real world.

Driving is much easier in many practical ways. Specifically, if your engine blows up you don't fall do your doom. I am not talking about when everything goes right, programming a plane for that is super easy and difficult for a car. I am talking about when everything goes wrong in unexpected ways. The solution when driving is easy: Stop. Virtually 100% of the time you just stop the car and everything will be fine. But a robot can't just stop a plane. It has to land that plane without landing gear or in a river with half the instruments broken. Can it do that?

Robots can fly a plane fine under ideal conditions and in the sky ideal conditions prevail almost all the time. That does not make them suited to adapt to catastrophic failure with on the fly planning.

I question how these'll be paid for, since I doubt Google's doing this for free. Cities buy them, then raise taxes? Or what?

Unless they plan on replacing every car at once, this won't work. The human element is flawed, but it works better than an automatic element against other humans. Auto cars are only going to be safe against other auto cars, and even then I'm dubious. Small scale testing is not the same as large scale reality.

Also, as the world is largely market driven (forgive the pun) it won't happen. People like cars, they like them enough to spend ridiculous amounts of money on them, all over the world. You won't get people to give them up

Dimitriov:
And here's the damn question I have been asking since I first heard about this years ago, and which NO NEWS STORY HAS AS YET EVEN BOTHERED TO ADDRESS: if one of these cars does get in an accident who the fuck is legally at fault? The manufacturer? The idiot taking a nap inside?

It could only possibly be the manufacturer or the owner's fault. Like now when there is an accident, passengers are not the ones sued.

I'm more interested in what this would do to the economy. Cab drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, etc... Just what we don't need is 10 million more unemployed people.

To all of those of you who are concerned over the stability of the driving automation, do you REALLY believe that the engineers at Google are so stupid they're not taking that into consideration?

I love it. Its cute and not frightening and totally approachable. I think this is a fantastic way to get people to try something they might otherwise be scared of. I mean look at it? you going to be too scared to ride in that?

Limited to 25mph huh? I guess we'll have to wait awhile before we get an epic race across Europe between the Google car and the guys from Top Gear :P

I wouldn't mind been driven around by one of these. I do like driving myself so I hope these don't end completely replacing manual cars in the future. But for getting around busy city centres and long monotonous motorway trips I'd happily let this thing do the driving while I watch a film or something; plus it would mean I could avoid stopping at God awful motorway services as well.

The Artificially Prolonged:
Limited to 25mph huh? I guess we'll have to wait awhile before we get an epic race across Europe between the Google car and the guys from Top Gear :P

I wouldn't mind been driven around by one of these. I do like driving myself so I hope these don't end completely replacing manual cars in the future. But for getting around busy city centres and long monotonous motorway trips I'd happily let this thing do the driving while I watch a film or something; plus it would mean I could avoid stopping at God awful motorway services as well.

I would bet real money the 25mph thing is a legal and cultural thing. They need to get people used to the idea so people accept it and all car crashes are not automatically blamed on the auto car.

I'm Really afraid of a "free to drive version" Forcing you to Watch ads before you may leave the car: Add Red Dragon reference here.
DO YOU SEE?
Be nickeled and dimed to go faster than 10 KM/h.
Drive past 10 drive-through fastfood places or pay to take the direct route.

Living in the Buffalo area for the past three years taught me a valuable lesson in just how awful drivers can be.

I'm all for this.

That thing looks ****ing ridiculous. It LITERALLY looks like a clown car.

Also, no steering wheel or pedals whatsoever? A self driving feature in a car is definitely a good idea, but one that cannot be driven manually at all is not. There are obvious problems, such as the self-driving system getting broken, or being in conditions wherein the self driving system cannot properly function, that make the inclusion of manual driving a necessity. In addition, there's just the plain fact that some people will still prefer to drive manually, just not in every single situation (Driving in traffic, while tired, intoxicated). All in all this seems like a great system to include in regular cars, but to have it be the only way of using a car seems like a very bad idea.

Also, that thing looks ****ing ridiculous. Did I mention that already? I'll do it again for good measure. Clown car.

Kalezian:

RedBackDragon:
*takes one look at the car* BWAHAHAHAAAAAA AHHHH OH MY GOD THAT THING LOOKS SO SILLY!!! i rely want to take you seriously googe i rely rely do and i think that this is an awesome idea but dear lord do you need some help in the design even "the homer" would be better than this.

for being an electric car without a steering wheel and pedals that can drive itself form point a to point b, and being a prototype?

what the hell did you expect? a prius lookalike?

I had the exact same thought as RedBackDragon on this one. It looks like a mighty mong-mobile.

And I know it's a prototype but Google has how many designers in it's employ? They still would have paid someone with a design degree to come up with that initial look. The only way I can make sense of this is by assuming the marketing department got involved and decided to make it look as ridiculous as possible to grab everyone's attention.

Verlander:
People like cars, they like them enough to spend ridiculous amounts of money on them, all over the world. You won't get people to give them up

People love horses. They love them far more than they love cars. They spend much more ridiculous amounts of money all over the world. But by and large, they do not ride them to work.

Convenience wins markets. Handily.

I would not trust that thing. What if something happens and it gets out of control? I wouldn't get in unless it had a manual override.

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