Google’s prototype for a completely automated car radically changes the driving experience from actively controlling the vehicle to removing even the option of steering, accelerating, or braking. The technology company is planning to build about a hundred prototypes for a small pilot program scheduled to begin later this summer in California. During the tests, safety drivers will retain the ability to control the vehicle should something unexpected happen. Each car has two seats, a space for passenger belongings, buttons to start and stop the engine, and a screen that shows the route.
What’s the Big Idea?
Google says that the car’s sensors are capable of navigating passengers safely to and from locations without any assistance at all. “The early prototypes have sensors that remove blind spots, and can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. They’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph.” The prospect of driverless cars calls into question many of our everyday practices. Can unlicensed drivers operate an automated car? If there is an accident, who is at fault?