Google is always up to something crazy, and there’s that’s not changing any time soon. This time around Google has taken yet another idea straight from the pages of your favorite Sci-Fi novel or frames from a movie and turned it into reality. I, Robot certainly made the self-driving car look good, and now Google is here to bring that to the real world, this time without a steering wheel. That’s right, unlike I, Robot when the robot masters eventually take over you may not actually have a way to take manual control of that car. Never fear though, our robot overlords know what’s best for us, and Google is here to show them how to safely navigate us from point A to point B. Google assures us that its dual-pilot system will help maintain the utmost safety, as redundant mechanical systems for breaking and steering are built in to the vehicle. While we’ve been seeing a lot from Google in terms of self-driving cars recently, this is the first time we’ve heard of it on a vehicle that’s been completely designed from scratch by Google, and shows Google’s vision of who the project is really aimed toward.
Simple, aerodynamic and fuel efficient is the name of the game here, not to mention pretty roomy for the physical size of the vehicle, Google’s steering wheel-less self-driving car looks like a Fiat mated with a Volkswagen and popped something chibi-cute out. It’s not something that’ll be turning heads because of its elegant lines or flashy chrome trim, but it’s not designed to do that. Rather Google is aiming this toward the every day situations, ones in which the elderly have no easy way of moving around because it isn’t safe for them to drive, people don’t get in drunk driving accidents because they aren’t driving in the first place, and one that could eliminate previous minutes out of your commute because you don’t have to find a parking space. Those are just some of the examples Google has given us in its blog post on the subject, and one that raises as many questions as it answers.
Right now we’ve seen that these self-driving cars are limited to currently available map data, and while Google has more map data than probably anyone else on the planet this side of the NSA it’s not yet enough to let these driver-less cars out on every street in the world, much less California where Google resides. There’s plenty of promise for the project though, and if anyone is going to get it going it’s going to be Google. While these cars won’t work in every single situation ever, they will definitely come in handy when you need a ride and can’t seem to hail a cab with a human driving it. Check out Google’s first public test drive of this new prototype vehicle below.