Here's a closer look at Google's self-driving car

Here's a closer look at Google's self-driving car
Google has more than one model of self-driving car, but the prototype, the car that looks like a open-eyed orb with wheels is what gave the world a "first impression." That vehicle is on display here at Google I/O 2016, with a small roped in area and little else.

Many of us have not seen these vehicles up close, and fewer have seen the inside of what a driverless car of the future might look like. Perhaps you drove by one of the modified Lexus SUVs Google has been experimenting with, and maybe you passed this little thing before you realized what it was.

The prototype vehicle is a two-seater, with electric drive. At first glance, one would think the shape was to make a statement, a-la the styling of other alternative fueled vehicles, like the Toyota Prius, or Honda FCX Clarity. However, as a prototype and proof-of-concept vehicle, this rounded shape maximizes the visibility for all the sensors on the car.

On top is a large sensor array, with smaller systems installed on the front, back, and at the tips of the side mirrors. The interior is designed for riding, not for driving (though you can see Google prudently installed some basic pedals to stop or move the car should conditions warrant). The center console controls door locks, windows, and seat warmers.

While a future of roads filled with self-driving, fully autonomous, cars is still a long way off, one issue that will abate itself with wide adoption will be that of distracted driving. In time, integrated systems will allow for programmable and predictable traffic patterns which could someday eliminate the need for traffic signals in some areas.

When those days arrive, the routine will be for us to tell Google Assistant to pre-cool or heat the car, while telling it to stop by the pizza shop on the way home, and send a message to the family that we are picking up dinner. In the meantime, we can relax, update our social media on the ride, and be less stressed about contending with traffic. Sure, it is not an ideal reality if you are a car enthusiast, but for the Monday-through-Friday grind, there are far worse outcomes.


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7 Comments

1. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

its ugly on first look :-/ but if they raise headlamp a little, and slightly change the shape and color to make it looks like koala, it will look great

2. pixel8or

Posts: 83; Member since: Jun 10, 2010

So, the pics of the people on the doors. Kill count?http://i.imgur.com/8vtWA1W.jpg

3. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

Steve Urkle just called looking for his car.

4. GoGoGalaxyNexus

Posts: 80; Member since: Nov 01, 2013

if it wasn't so freaking ugly....

5. kefalin

Posts: 292; Member since: Feb 08, 2015

Its prototype,thats why its ugly. Finall cars with this hardware wll look differently.

7. Shadocx4

Posts: 134; Member since: Oct 20, 2014

It's cute, should paint it in pastel pink.

8. fiji.siv

Posts: 95; Member since: Nov 25, 2015

I don't understand the point of the pedals if there's no way to steer. Yeah I stopped the car before it drove off the cliff... now what? "Ok Google turn the car... now back up... now turn the other way... no wait, I meant go forward... stop... turn while going forward... your turning the wrong way..." It seems like a joystick would offer more control and take up less space. Ya, the point is to take control from the people and give it to the computer because computers are so much better at this than humans. But then we get back to the pedals... why?

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