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Google self-driving vehicle prototype

Google Unveils ‘Goofy’ New Self-Driving Car

by / December 23, 2014

Back in May, Google announced plans for its self-driving car prototype, and on the morning of Dec. 22, the company unveiled the first real build -- a fully functional vehicle it plans to test on Bay Area public roads in the new year.

The vehicle unveiled in May was an early mockup and lacked real headlights, according to the Google Self-Driving Car Project's Google+ page. But since then, the company has been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car, such as the typical car parts like steering and braking, and the “self-driving” components 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 company said on its Google+ page.

In San Jose, city leaders have been in talks with Google about being one of the first Bay Area cities to welcome autonomous cars on some city roads — and this summer, formed a 1-square-mile “North San Jose Transportation Innovation Zone” to allow for experimentation of a variety of transportation technologies, from autonomous cars to solar-powered streetlights and electric vehicle charging stations, along 11 miles of roadway, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

 

According to Hans Larsen, the city's transportation chief, the cars could be a big improvement in a city where 42 people died in auto accidents last year, and 2,700 were injured. “The No. 1 reason this occurs is primarily because of human error or behavioral issues,” Larsen told the news outlet. “Technology can make vehicles safer and provide a greater level of sensing than humans can.”