No, you are not looking at a full-scale model of an automobile from an anime flick. This is a functioning prototype of the latest Google self-driving car. Remember the Google autonomous vehicle that gained legal clearance to operate in certain places? Well, this animated little number is out there testing at furious speeds of 25 miles per hour in parking lots…and it lacks both a steering wheel and pedals. Silly humans, Google does not think you must drive. To attempt to sell this lifestyle to a gearhead, simply Google the word “Never”.
That is correct, there could soon be vehicles on the streets with no need for a human driver. But is it sheer madness to remove the wheel and pedals entirely? What if the systems malfunction and a human needs to take control? I am not certain I would feel entirely confident with the option of voice commands–I will need more than Siri to ensure my safety. I suppose there was a time that we left the driving to a real horse rather than horsepower, but a man-made machine? Is the world prepared for such a thing?
The video above demonstrates the scope of the Google self-driving car project. This model is the first one developed in-house from the ground up, and testing will be extensive and ongoing. Is it truly Google’s vision of the future of transportation? Would even a measurable percentage of drivers willingly relinquish the joy of driving and leave it to a computer?
Initial responses included the exclamation: “Oh isn’t that cute!” So what does it mean to own a self-driving vehicle? Google is still beta testing that. There are more questions than answers at this intersection.
At this juncture the Google self-driving car has no name and little else in the way of creature comforts save some storage space and a cute face. The forward-thinking company intends to build 100 of these autonomous prototypes with manual controls, which is a better approach than no wheel or pedals. Their target audience is California, so over the next decade it could become a dangerous tourist destination if this project goes awry! I kid, I kid.
Is legislation prepared for the likes of this Google prototype car?
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