Google’s self driving car project has been in the works for a couple years, and we think it’s safe to say that they’ve come quite a bit further than some naysayers would have thought in the beginning. There have been plenty of tests for Google in this area having first started testing the computer system and the camera on top of commercially manufactured and sold vehicles like the Prius and other cars, and earlier this year they even had a mockup test vehicle set up to give people a passenger ride in the vehicles first official drive on a test track. That was back in may, and Google has announced today that they finally have the first complete prototype ready.
This is Google’s first real build of the self driving car so this is truly a big milestone for the company and for the advancement of technology. Google admits that there have actually been many prototypes they have worked on, and that each one was designed to mimic and test different aspects of a self driving vehicle. That’s right, Google designed and built a different prototype for each element of the self driving car, like steering and breaking, and a prototype to obviously test the self driving factors like the computer and the sensors that would be housed in such a vehicle.
Now that Google has tested all the prototypes and working elements they have assembled everything together into a fully working prototype self-driving vehicle and have stated they will be “zipping around their test track” during the holidays to see how things go. Google mentions that they hope to see people on the streets of Northern California in the new year so there’s a possibility that we could see these things driving around the streets of Mountain View or San Francisco sometime in 2015, even if they are still only test vehicles with safety drivers overseeing the trips around town. Google states the safety drivers are still an essential part of the testing as they continue to learn through the process, and that temporary manual controls will still be a factor for now. There is still likely some time to go before things go completely autonomous, but this is a huge leap forward we’d say. Also, check out the video from Google’s first drive inside of the self driving car.