Google To Test Fleet of Self-Driving Prototypes This Summer | Edmunds

Google To Test Fleet of Self-Driving Prototypes This Summer


Just the Facts:
  • Google said it's ramping up its push to build self-driving cars by launching a fleet of prototypes later this summer.
  • "They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal — because they don't need them," wrote Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, in a company blog post on Tuesday.
  • Google is planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California Google said it's ramping up its push to build self-driving cars by launching a fleet of prototypes later this summer.

"They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal — because they don't need them," wrote Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, in a company blog post on Tuesday.

Google is planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles. The speed of the vehicles is capped at 25 mph and the features are minimal. Google said they are "light on creature comforts."

"Later this summer, our safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls," Urmson wrote. "If all goes well, we'd like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. We're going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology works as we hope, we'll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely."

This is a significant move for Google, which was expected to simply provide its self-driving technology to established automakers at some point, instead of tinkering with its own fleet of autonomous vehicles.

The Google prototype is a pod-shaped car with two seats and two doors.

The tech giant did not say whether the prototype is built on an existing auto platform. An unnamed Detroit-area manufacturer is building the cars for Google, according to The New York Times.

"The vehicles will be very basic — we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible — but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button," Urmson wrote.

A new YouTube video of the prototype shows a blind man named Steve Mahan — and other consumers — in the car. Mahan previously tested Google's self-driving technology in a Toyota Prius. That video has been viewed nearly 6 million times.

Edmunds says: An exciting new chapter for Google as it clearly intends to be a major player in the push to get self-driving cars into the hands of consumers.

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