Google’s experiment with self driving cars is gaining momentum with the Head of Policy at Google X Sarah Hunter telling the California Public Utilities Commission last week that Google is now making a few hundred of them. Previously Google had said it was only making 100 small electric self driving cars in 2015. Now things seem to be picking up speed. This could be a variety of reasons. It could be the tests are going very well, or it could be to scare of the competition such as Uber and Apple. Now this accelerated production certainly won’t scare off Apple but could hurt Uber or some other car company who is working on this technology.
Google is working with an engineering firm Roush which has been the ones manufacturing the cars. Hunter told the commission they are looking into the best way to market these vehicles by either selling them directly to individuals, or by operating and marketing them as a service sort of like a driverless Uber. Hunter also stated Google is looking into all aspects of the all electric cars and how they could build it themselves. Currently all Roush cars are electric but Google is also looking at a traditional gasoline engine powered version.
Hunter gave the commission some details about the cars themselves. The cars have 3 buttons, a microphone, and that is it. The maps used by the car have to be extremely detailed with information about traffic lights, the width of the roadways and more. Google has retrofitted a few different cars with the most recent being a line of Lexus RX450h which was sent to Dallas Texas for testing. Those vehicles require a person in the driver’s seat to be able to take control in a moments notice.
Now if you are getting ready to run to a dealership and trade in your gas guzzling SUV for a fully electric self driving car, you might want to sit back down and wait for awhile. These vehicles are something we are going to be hearing about for a very long time before we get to buy or try one out. Google seems to be more advanced than others in this field but they still need to work with government agencies on how to regulate these vehicles. Right now Google’s cars do not go over 25mph to avoid some of those regulations. It is going to be a long wait before we get into a car, tell it to go to the nearest Macy’s and take out your tablet and play a game while the car does all the driving.