Google has shocked the world by announcing that it is building its own self-driving cars. Yes, Mountain View is stepping on the toes of automakers by building prototype automobiles. Rather than continue to retrofit its technology on existing cars, it is making vehicles without unneeded extras, such as break-pedals and steering wheels.
"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", says Chris Urmson, Director, Self-Driving Car Project.
Urmson further explains, "it was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, 'What should be different about this kind of vehicle?' We started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. And we've capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we've designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we'll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers' belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route -- and that's about it".
So, is Google getting ready to compete with automakers like Ford and Honda? It's impossible to say for sure. Google has made no such mention of becoming a car company - this is simply speculation at this point. However, the company seems willing to enter any market, as the Nest acquisition shows.
What we do know however, is that the search-giant only plans to build one hundred of these prototypes - for now. In the interim, Google will run a small pilot to see if it is successful. If it is, the company will work with partners to license the technology.
Do you think this is the first step towards Google becoming a car manufacturer? Let us know in the comments.