The future is here! And we're not sure if we're comfortable with it.
Google has been working on a self-driving car for many years, and now we finally get to see what all that research has added up to. And it's adding up to a vehicle that looks like a smart car but has no steering wheel, no brake pedal and no gas pedal. Which is the point, sure, but right now we trust these autonomous cars about as far as we can throw them. We guess that's the wrong phrase to use since these cars are quite small and we probably could throw them further than say, a Nissan Altima.
But we digress. Says Google about their cars:
"Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can't keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History. We're now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they'll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal… because they don't need them. Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic—we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible—but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that's an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people."
Google also released a video of regular folks going for a test "drive" in the car. They were the first people outside of Google and the development team to ride in it. Our favorite part of the video is obviously when Linda, a sweet old lady, gushed: "Isn't that cuuute?" upon first seeing the car.
Testers Annie and Judy said they "feel like queens" when riding in it, while Thida described it as a "space age experience."
The car doesn't go faster than 25 mph during the test drive, and there are only two seats. Google says the car is designed for "learning, not luxury" at the moment. There's also a space for belongings, a start and stop button and a screen that shows the car's route. That's it.
We couldn't quite figure out what the car's look reminded us of, but then Funny or Die went and hit the nail on the head:
Google's driverless car looks like a koala that just remembered something embarrassing from 10 years ago. pic.twitter.com/8jjKCVPml6? Funny Or Die (@funnyordie) May 28, 2014
Google says they plan to build "about a hundred" of the prototypes and they'll start testing them early this summer with safety drivers. Next will be a small pilot program, and then soon enough, the company hopes to "bring this technology into the world safely."
Just as long as you bring Walt and Linda, too!