Google robot car targets urban services

Google robot car targets urban services

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

For the start, Google plans to build some 100 vehicles which however will be equipped with manual controls, said Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car project. By summer, the company plans to start testing the vehicles. The next step will be a small pilot program in California which will take "a couple of years", as Urmson said. Reportedly, Urmson said he aims at "the 16th birthday of his son" as the timeline to reach series maturity for the technology. This is the case in five and a half year – which would mean that the robot car could hit the road around end of 2019.

The two-seater offers a maximum speed of some 40 km/h; information regarding the driving range has not been provided. According to reports, the vehicle comes with a plastic windshield and offers ample legroom. A large screen in the cockpit displays time, air temperature and estimated time of arrival at the destination. To start the ride, the user just enters the destination into the computer and pushes a start button.

For the time being, the concept of the car provides for a kind of taxi mode operation, targeting urban traffic and city commuting. Typically they will be offered from mobility service providers.

In terms of aesthetics, Google apparently felt inspired by a European design of the fifties: The Isetta, a three-seater built by BMW under license from Italian motorbike manufacturer Iso Rivolta (see image).

The BMW Isetta – an early anchestor of Google’s self-driving vehicle? The design idiom suggests a close relationship.

Google already works for several years on the project of self-driving cars or automated driving. Hitherto, the company used standard cars as the ‘mobility platform’ to test its sensors and computing resources required. In Europe, several major carmakers are also are developing vehicles capable of driving autonomously. Experts believe that automated driving will be introduced gradually – advanced driver assistance systems will increasingly offload drivers in critical or boring situations, and users will in most cases have the choice to override the system and drive manually.

Read also our opinion piece on this topic: 

Analysis: Watch out for the robot car!

Related articles:

Apple, Tesla, the perfect couple?

Frost & Sullivan expects 6 million automated vehicles by 2025

Amazing race toward autonomous car design

Autonomous driving features gradually implemented in Gothenburg test

Daimler, KIT send autonomous vehicle on historic course

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