1st Real Google Self-Driving Car Arrives

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Originally published on Sustainnovate.

First Google Self-Driving Car Prototypes Completed & Hitting The Streets

Google introduced its own, built-from-the-ground-up, electric self-driving cars earlier this year. This has got to be one of the biggest tech stories of the year. However, at that launch, the self-driving mockup vehicle, as Google noted in a Google+ post today, “didn’t even have real headlights!” It has surely made a lot of progress since then, as the announcement today was that the “first real build” of the cute little electric vehicle has arrived.

Briefly summarizing what has gone on since May, the Google+ post states: “Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car—for example, the typical ‘car’ parts like steering and braking, as well as the ‘self-driving’ parts like the computer and sensors. We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”

The Google+ post went on to note that people in Northern California would be able to spot the self-driving car on public streets in 2015. For now, the team behind the self-driving car is “spending the holidays zipping around our test track.”

It’s great to see the vehicle moving forward, and I think it looks pretty sharp now with the real headlights.

Here’s a video from May in case you missed it:

Image Credit: Google

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25 thoughts on “1st Real Google Self-Driving Car Arrives

  • they keep on moving forward and at a fast pace!

  • Looks remarkably like the self-driving cars of Total Recall.

    • Those weren’t self driving, they totally had that humanoid guy in the front 😀 Agree though 🙂

  • Please do not remove the steering wheel in a real production car. Most buildings have lifts and stairs.

    • Rick, manual controls will be removed. Having dual controls represents unneeded extra expense and weight. Of course, they don’t have to be removed from every car. For oldies who actually want to be in control, or for kids who just found dad’s stash of Fast and Furious video files, even fully autonomous cars could come with a set of manual controls. The A.I. will of course take over to prevent accidents.

      • These are ‘drive by wire’ cars. Adding in a couple of pedals and a steering wheel that served as input devices wouldn’t be expensive.

        They could drive by joystick – right/left steer, forward forward, back brake. Button on top to switch into reverse.

        • I presume there is already a touch screen that would allow that. But I’m also sure Google wouldn’t want anyone unquallified using unconventional controls even if they are similar to controls some disabled people have been using for ages. They would want to avoid, “Google made me drive with a joystick and that’s why I ran over that guide dog,” lawsuits. If a Google car needs human brain power to solve a problem it will probably contact a trained technician. And that technician can talk to people in the vehicle if their input is required to solve the problem. Emergency manual controls passengers can access sound good to us because we all think we would use them responsibly, but in practice we’re going to use them to drive backwards the wrong way down a one way street so we don’t have to wait at the lights.

  • What happens when bugs start splattering against the bubble-gum machine “sensor”?

    • It will ask you or whoever services it to give it a clean. Or it might just go through a carwash by itself. I believe we have robot truck cleaning robots in Australia at the moment so no human may be involved at all.

    • It will use redundant backup sensors to immediately drive off the nearest cliff.

  • Stick an Uber decal on the side, stand back, and watch the cash roll in. (I may have glossed-over a few important intermediate steps…)

    • Adrian:
      Excellent posting; it made me chuckle. Oh and the part about the intermediate steps; I think the only one you missed is “time” and that will get compressed into a shorter interval.
      Have a great day.

    • This is one of the key components of my Masdar 2030 entry. I called it the PET – Personal Electric Transport. Why buy a car if you can schedule it and it just shows up…with a cost effective, driverless experience to boot 🙂

  • self-driving trucks will be even more important near term development, because robotic drivers do not mind if they need to have a 30 minutes break at automated fast charging station every 100 km or so.

    • I can totally see this for the Semi Truck / Lorrie trucks…trash trucks and obviously city buses.

    • Plus, with the loss of all those driving jobs, we can raise the unemployment rate so more people can buy new electric… wait a minute…

      • Dragon, the choice societies face is whether or not to allow to allow most of the benefits of new technology accrue to capital or not. Some countries have gone one way, such as Australia where cleaning toilets earns $15 US an hour, while other countries have gone the other way such as in the much richer Unites States where similar work may pay less than half that. Currently capital is raking it in, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

        • I’m definitely not for stopping technology or automation, but we do need to consider just how people are to live in such a society. Every 100 or so labor-intensive jobs automated away yield maybe 1 high-tech maintenance job. I’m just guessing on that ratio but at some point, there aren’t nearly enough jobs for everyone and society breaks down or a massive slum class develops. I think we’re seeing that already as we face automation removing labor jobs in factories and cheaper labor in other countries removing the rest. The united states got rich when jobs were plentiful. Its richness is now shifting more and more to an elite 1%, leaving more and more in poverty. The most progressive states, such as Oregon, implement policies to create jobs that don’t really need to exist, such as requiring all gas stations to have attendants pump the gas for you.

          • We’re going to need to find a different way to distribute goods as we dis-invent labor.

            The current system of some people working and (barely) supporting those whose labor we don’t need is not a good system.

      • With higher level on unemployment, people have more free time and they can therefore use bicycle rather than cars. This is also good for national health!

  • Lazy and slothful people around the world celebrate

    • Driving is a VERY sedentary activity. I suppose if folks were going from walking or biking to a car, that would be relevant but for most use cases here in the US, it’s just a matter of eliminating the effort (and risk) of driving.

  • Next they will put a TV as the wind shield! Great innovation from google and will definitely be looking forward to the new and evolving versions.

  • Bit late on catching up on posts, but wow am I impressed, this has been up for a day and a half, and no rants about the impossibility of self driving cars, or how autonomous vehicles are going to ruin the experience of ‘real driving’.
    All of the negatoids must be busy trying to peak into the packages under the trees, Happy Holidays everyone, and keep on dreaming about the possibilities of the future that are right around the corner.

  • The unemployment issue has been rised very pertinently and here’s why:

    Take the Google self-driving car for what it is meant to be, i.e. to announce a brillant future for the motorcar and thus divert public attention from the forthcoming autonomous aircraft which is long-standing state-of-the-art with drones that could as well carry human payload.

    Autonomous vertical take-off and landing electric tilt-rotor aircraft will land at the periphery of urban areas where the cockpit will be detached to serve as a mini city EV — Taylor has indeed shown us the way as soon as in the fifties with his Aerocar!

    SUVs and all other current type cars will be banned from urban areas and buses will be replaced by mini EV trucks towing half a dozen of 1 or 2 seated mini-trailers. Only specialized electric helicopters will fly into town with large and heavy freight delivered at the periphery by conventinal trucks — and of course official helicopters of the police, firefighting, medical and rescue services.

    Since many times more mini road train drivers will be needed than currently bus drivers, this will be a real bonanza in a world where automation, robotization and IT will inexorably continue to create ever more unempoyed.

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