Behind The Wheel (Well, Not Exactly) Of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project

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Think about all the time you waste sitting, yes sitting, behind the wheel each month.  In addition to the occasional scream at the car in front of you (come on, admit it), sitting in traffic just screams inefficiency.  Call it wasted time.

Whether moving or not, there are a plethora of things we could be doing instead of driving of driving from point A to point B.  Now what if you could get from point A to point B in a car without driving?  Google (who else, of course) thinks it is possible, and they have the working prototype to show for it – Google’s Self-Driving Car Project.

With a car that drives itself, theoretically it would free up time to do other things – work, play, visit with family members (as described by volunteers in the Google video below).  The possibilities are really endless, and yet quite frightening at the same time.

Google’s Self-Driving Car Project, powered by Google Chauffeur, is built upon the concept of autonomous cars.  Autonomous cars sense the environment around it (via cameras and robotics) and navigate without human input.  No steering wheel, no accelerator pedal, no brakes.

According to Google;

Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of our project, because we think this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can’t drive. We’re now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves—just push a button and they’ll take you where you want to go! We’ll use these vehicles to test our software and learn what it will really take to bring this technology into the world.

To date, Google’s self-driving car prototypes utilized hybrid vehicles the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX450h.  Reports claim that the latest prototypes are even all electric, making them even more efficient.

To address safety (which is one of several giant hurdles that must be addressed including legality) Google has capped maximum speed at 25 mph.  Since 2012, Google’s self-driving cars have driven 300,000 miles without a vehicular accident.

Would you be willing to ride in Google’s self-driving car?  Do you think this will eventually come to market? Share your comments with us.

Feature image courtesy of LoKan Sardari

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Chase Ezell

Chase has served in various public relations, communications and sustainability roles. He is a former managing editor for Earth911.com.