Google’s driverless cars to ‘shoulder the entire burden of driving’

Google has announced plans to start building driverless cars that “shoulder the entire burden of driving”.

The company says it will begin testing a hundred prototype vehicles in the coming months and will run a pilot of the cars in the US “in the next couple of years”.

Google has released a video of a prototype (see above) of the ‘self-driving’ car, which has a maximum speed of 25mph.

It is equipped with software and sensors that are designed to do the work of a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal, a screen to display the route and two seats. It also stops and starts at the touch of a button.

The emphasis is on simplicity and not luxury, according to a blog post by Chris Urmson, director of the self-driving car project.

Urmson hints the vehicles will be targeted at the elderly and the short of time.   

He writes: “Just imagine: You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can’t keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History.”

Google announced plans to develop self-driving cars in 2010 but has focussed efforts in the interim on partnering with car manufacturers to use its Android operating system to develop connected cars. 

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