Google has shown its self-driving car prototype and says it will build 100 of the vehicles for testing with the eventual aim of "bringing this technology to the world safely".
In a blog post, Chris Urmson, Google's director of the self-driving car project, said that later this summer, the company will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls (for legal reasons, but the prototype concept shown does not). "If all goes well, we'd like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years," he said in the post. "We're going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, we'll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely."
The toy-like prototype has two seats, a screen displaying the route and a top speed of 25mph. Ultimately, Google says the new self-driving cars won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal... because they don't need them.
"Our software and sensors do all the work. The vehicles will be very basic-we want to learn from them and adapt them as quickly as possible-but they will take you where you want to go at the push of a button. And that's an important step toward improving road safety and transforming mobility for millions of people."
Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, incorporating advanced technologies involving sensors, cameras and radar into test vehicles such as Toyota's Prius.
Google has yet to provide details on how its self-driving cars are to be manufactured, only conceding that it will work with partners.
Google also posted a video clip to YouTube of the prototype in action.