Googles first built-from-scratch self-driving car
Google has presented the first fully working road-legal model of its self-driving car. They wanted to create a car that was entirely driverless, but California released some new regulations that mention the fact that test cars must have manual controls like steering and pedals in case a human driver needs to take the control. Google wants to partner with a real car maker in order to release to the market a brand new self-driving vehicle.
Mainly, Google tried to retrofit existing cars like Toyota Prius and Lexus 450h with the required hardware and software in order to autonomously drive a few towns and highways in California and Nevada. So, Google has achieved to drive hundreds of thousands of accident-free miles. This makes them confident that soon enough will extend the projects towards commercialization. Firstly, they revealed a semi-functioning prototype, which led to releasing a fully functioning prototype that is also road-legal.
When you first look at it, this new prototype is almost indistinguishable from the first model revealed, but if you analyze it thoroughly there are some major changes. The new prototype has functional headlights and the elevation on the roof of the car ( in which is hidden the LIDAR hardware) is more well-built. The smile has vanished too, being replaced by a set of indicators. Anyway, the front of the prototype still resembles a face, but it seems a bit more serious.
The major changes cannot be seen from the outside. In order to follow the new legislation in California, this new prototype has manual controls like a steering wheel or pedals. In other words, in order to avoid the roads to be filled with dangerous self-driving cars, those test vehicles must provide `immediate physical control`. This means that there has to be a driver that can hit the brakes if the car`s software has an error. Google wanted to set up a big stop/go button in between the passenger seats, but this cannot be achieved yet, because its self-driving cars have to make use of the usual manual controls as well.
Google wants to test further the prototype in order to make sure everything functions properly. If they follow the plan and everything is flawless, the all new awesome car will be seen in the streets of California starting from the next year. Google assumes that it will produce at least 200 prototype cars.
For a long-term goal, Google wants to find industrial car manufacturers that will bring the self-driving tech to the mass market. A few years ago, Google was the pioneer of this kind of technology, but nowadays companies like Tesla, Mercedes and Audi are getting very close to releasing fully autonomous driving cars. So, Google seems to slip away from this competition, even though it had a great start. Who knows who will get to release to the mass market the brand new technology of self-driving cars!