Google’s self-driving car – the future?

Back on May 27th Google took one more stride into the future and announced their prototype self-driving car. We’ve heard of this before, but in the past the driverless vehicle came in the form of a Toyota or Lexus kitted out with an array of cameras and other gadgetry that made it look… well, plain ugly.

What we’re seeing now though is a very different car. Google have designed look – a quaint, small car – and it could be spelling out the future of the road.

There’s no steering wheel, no brake pedals, no accelerator – just two seats. You climb in, buckle up and hit the ‘start’ button and off it goes. Google says that the car gives you time to get your stuff done. You can check emails on the way to work, catch up with the kids, read a book and the car will take you onto your destination safely. Want to stop for a coffee on the way to work? Simply instruct it through your smartphone.

As you’ve probably figured out by now, to take you to your desired destination the world’s first “autonomous” car pulls information from the extremely detailed Google Maps. Satellite feeds, global positioning, radars, sensors and lasers all play a part in helping the little car find its way around.

Trusting computers. A little risky, isn’t it?

Well, not really. Previous Google cars (the ugly Lexus’ and Toyotas’ we mentioned) have covered around half a million miles of Californian roads. And in that time there’s only been one accident. And a human was at fault then. Not the machine.

At the moment Google’s newest venture into the self-driving car is just a prototype. It only reaches 25 miles per hour and they haven’t even looked at it being used to travel from one city to another via motorway. It’s your commute to work. Your inner-city run-around.

So what’s next?

Google have said they’re going to build 100 prototypes and test them on public roads by the end of summer 2014. And their aim is that at some point in the not so distant future, they’re going to sell them for public use.

There’s a long way to go yet, and like many technologies coming forward today, we’ve only seen the beginning. But this advancement could mean that one day, not so far away, we’ll be driving to work, toast in hand, newspaper in the other, paying not one drop of attention to the road in front of us.

Sounds daring, right?