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Google’s new self-driving prototype sheds steering wheel & brake pedals

Snapshot: The electric powered car features only two seats, two buttons and a screen that displays the route.

The latest iteration of Google’s self-driving car has been revealed online via Google’s Blog, while a lucky few reporters also got a small preview of this first-ever prototype of the self-driving car who had gathered for a conference in California. The tech company has started building a fleet of 100 prototypes from ground-up, which do not feature a steering wheel or pedals and does not require fuel to run. 

What this self-driving car does feature, is a set of buttons for stop and go, two seats with seat-belts and a screen that displays all the route and information. Everything else in the car, will be handled by electronics and the gazillion sensors it comes equipped with. Moreover, the car can be summoned via a smart-phone application. Once summoned, the car comes, picks you up and takes you to your destination.

“Ever since we started the Google self-driving car project, we have been working towards the goal of vehicles that could shoulder the entire burden of driving.” Chris Urmson, who’s heading the project at Google said. “You can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking. Seniors can keep their freedom, even if thy can’t keep their keys. And drunk and distracted? History.” Urmson further added. 

In view of safety concerns, Ron Medford, a former U.S Department of Transportation administrator in charge of vehicle safety research and regulations said that the car has two sets of steering and braking systems, so if one fails, the other can take over. To reduce the risk of injuring pedestrians in a crash, the front of the car will me made of a foam-like material and the windshield will be made of plastic instead of glass. As an added precaution, the prototype has been restricted to a speed of 40 kmph. 

Google’s safety driver’s will begin testing the prototype later this year, ferrying employees around the company’s Mountain View campus. If all goes well, the company hopes to take the cars out in the real world. 

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