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Google co-founder Sergey Brin has announced the company’s latest plans at a conference in California. Its building its own driverless car which could be on the road within a year.
The vehicle, containing no steering wheel or controls, will be designed to look like a small city car, with what Google describes as a “friendly face”.
To make the car seem less threatening, Google will use soft foam-like materials to replace a traditional bumper, and the company is hoping its latest driverless prototype will appeal to motorists.
A prototype of the new driverless car was unveiled at the conference and taken for a test drive. The car currently sports two seats, and a top speed of 25mph to help ensure maximum safety.
The car will use both laser and radar sensors along with camera data to navigate without a driver and allow it to “see” several hundred metres. A more flexible windscreen than a standard vehicle will be used to help reduce injuries.
Chris Urmston, director of the company’s self-driving project said: “We’re really excited about this vehicle – it’s something that will allow us to really push the capabilities of self driving technology, and understand the limitations.”
After spending several years testing the capability of everyday cars that have been modified to drive themselves by the help of sensors, navigation equipment and computers, Google has decided that now is the time to build its very own driverless car from scratch.
As part of Google’s roll out of the first 100 test vehicles, extra controls will be fitted in cars so that one of Google’s test drivers can take over if there is a problem.
However, it is believed by Mr Urmson and his team that over time these controls will be removed entirely as people gain more confidence in using the driverless technology.
Mr Urmson calls the development “an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people”. He predicted the cars would be on the road within a year.