Google makes autonomous car with no steering wheel; prototype only now

Google has produced a bespoke vehicle for its Self-Driving Car Project.

Up until now Google’s autonomous car project, based within the company’s skunkworks Google X division, has been using specially modified versions of road-going vehicles, such as the Lexus RX. These have kitted out with all manner of cameras and sensors to see the environment around them, and then manipulate the car’s steering, throttle and brakes to get from A to B.

In the group’s latest video, Google has revealed a bespoke two-seat electric pod car with a cute koala face. Inside, the car is bare and sparse. There are few controls, save a start and stop button, a bit of space for luggage and a display for showing the current route.

The current car’s sensors can, in Google’s words, “detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions”.

The current plan is build around 100 of these prototypes, with street testing to begin during the northern summer. Currently prototypes are limited to 40km/h (25mph) and any road-going vehicles will have manual controls, just in case.

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Derek Fung

Derek Fung

Editor-at-large — Derek has a lifelong love for all things automotive, from the dullest Camry to record shattering Bugattis. Prior to starting up Between the Axles he was a reviewer for CNET Australia and the founding editor of its Car Technology channel. [Read more]

Google makes autonomous car with no steering wheel; prototype only now