Google has officially unveiled the first prototype of its fully-functional, self-driving car. The company says each car model will combine self-driving technology such as laser guided steering with car parts from conventional suppliers.
The new prototype looks similar to the first model revealed by the Internet giant in May, but comes with a more polished casing for the equipment on top of the car that enables it to see the road as software directs its course. Google says that the company will initially use manual controls like gas and brake pedals while testing the cars in order to comply with California DMV rules.
"The vehicle we unveiled in May (goo.gl/qDUtgq) was an early mockup—it didn’t even have real headlights! Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car—for example, the typical “car” parts like steering and braking, as well as the “self-driving” parts like the computer and sensors. We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving," says Google in a post.
Project director Chris Urmson stated that Google is not interested in manufacturing the cars themselves but is looking to partner with existing auto makers in a bid to commercialize the technology within the next five years.
The driverless car project was originally announced in 2010 and one of the first initiatives by Google X research and development lab. The research lab has also brought smart eyewear Google Glass and nanoparticles for cancer detection. The internet giant is making efforts to expand outside its dominant search business and seek alternative revenue streams.
Apart from Google other technology companies are also working on developing and testing self-driving technologies. Recently Audi tested its RS7 sports car without a driver behind the wheel and achieved racing speeds. Nissan, General Motors, and automotive supplier Continental all expect to have self-driving cars on the road by 2020.