We have seen battery powered 'pod' type driver-less cars before with the ULTRra PRT at Heathrow airport and the recently announced 100 vehicle trial on public streets around Milton Keynes. These vehicles can only navigate on purpose built guideways as opposed to merging with general traffic. This week Google has demonstrated a driver-less pod type electric vehicle based on their self-driving technology, which while currently limited to car-park demos for legal reasons, should be capable to dealing with public roads autonomously.
The two-seater prototype vehicle is Google’s reimagination of what the modern automobile should look and feel like if you took the human out of the transportation equation and designed something solely to chauffeur passengers from point A to B.
“The project is about changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today,” Google co-founder Sergey Brin said at the inaugural Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. “There’s not great public transportation in many public places in the United States.”
The car — which was conceived and designed by Google, unlike the ones it previously modified — lacks many of the trappings of a normal car, and that includes the three essentials: A steering wheel, an accelerator and a brake pedal.
Google wants to get these cars on the streets ASAP. The company plans to start testing them in Mountain View, Calif., later this summer. They hopes to build at least 100 prototypes over the next two years, and get them into the hands of volunteer drivers — or nondrivers, as it were — as soon as the system is evaluated to be safe.