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Google's Self-Driving Car Is Missing Something That Has Been in Practically Every Vehicle Since the Model T


"Vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving."

A self-driving car is one thing, but a car that can't be driven by humans at all? Google has plans for just that.

w Google's self-driving concept car eliminates the steering wheel and pedals altogether. (Image source: Google)

Google announced updated plans for its self-driving car Tuesday at the Code Conference, revealing that the new prototypes will not be equipped with a steering wheel, gas or brake pedals and won't even have mirrors.

"We’ve been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving. 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," Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, said in a blog post.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the cars are part of the technology giant's effort to reengineer transportation, according to USA Today.

"What I'm excited about is how we could change transportation today," Brin said. "If you look at people who are too old, too young, or disabled, and can't get around, that's a big challenge for them."

[sharequote align="center"] ... and if the technology develops as we hope we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely."[/sharequote]

Urmson said Google plans to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and the safety drivers will begin testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls this summer.

"If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. We’re going to learn a lot from this experience," Urmson said, "and if the technology develops as we hope we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely."

The compact two-seat vehicles are purposely designed with few comforts drivers have come to expect in vehicles new to this decade, but the minimalist approach is part of Google's plan to maximize efficiency for travelers who otherwise wouldn't have a way to get around.

"On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it," Google's blog reads.

So far the cars have operated without incident, Brin told the Code Conference attendees. They have two feet of foam on the front and use glass instead of plastic, and they are limited to a maximum speed of 25 mph.

Check out the video here:

(H/T: Engadget)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter

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