By Alexandra Burlacu | May 28, 2014 07:24 AM EDT
Google has been test-driving Lexus SUVs customized with self-driving technology for the past few years, but now the company is ready to test the tech on its own vehicles.
An adorable electric-powered car is Google's own take at autonomous vehicles, and it operates without needing brakes, an accelerator pedal, or even a steering wheel.
"Ever since we started the Google self-driving car project, 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," Google touts in a new company blog post.
"We're now exploring what fully self-driving vehicles would look like by building some prototypes; they'll be designed to operate safely and autonomously without requiring human intervention. They 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's new electric-powered self-driving car prototype looks quite similar to a golf cart swallowed by a cute cartoon character, and it's very simple in design: just two seats, two buttons to start and stop, and a screen to show you the route. As expected, Google's road maps will help the autonomous vehicles to get around.
The prototypes have built-in sensors designed to remove blind spots and they can detect other objects even at a far distance, which will be especially useful when driving down busy streets with many intersections. According to Google, the speed of these first self-driving prototypes is capped at 25 mph.
Google further revealed plans to build a hundred prototype vehicles, with its safety drivers set to start testing early versions of these self-driving cars with manual controls later this summer. If everything runs smoothly, the company plans to run a small pilot program in California in the next two years.
"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," Google adds.
In the meantime, check out the video below to see this adorable self-driving car in action.