Just Press Go: Google Takes Volunteers On A Ride In Its Self-Driving Prototype Car (Video)

screen shot via YouTube/Google Self-Driving Car Concept

For the last few years, Google has openly spoken about the technology the company has actively been developing to create a safe, functional self-driving car. Recently one group of lucky volunteers from Mountain View, Calif. had the opportunity to be some of the first to test out Google’s newest brainchild.

In a video posted on the Google Official Blog Tuesday, Google unveiled the prototype of its self-driving car. Its most noticeable and characteristic features included its tiny seats, which sat two people comfortably, and a start/stop button for driving—and that was about it. Google says, though, the genius and most notable features in the self-driving car attributed to its stress on how it worked, not how it looked.

“We started with the most important thing: safety,” Chris Urmson, Director of Self-Driving Car Project says in the blog post.

They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they 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. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, we’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so we’re light on creature comforts, but we’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.”

The group of volunteers in the video seem to be completely tickled by the car that drives itself like magic with one volunteer commenting that it rides better than her own car and another alluding it to being a product of the “space age.” It felt like a person was driving it, they all agreed.

“What she really liked was that it slowed down before it went around a curve,” A volunteer named Walt said about what his wife, Linda, loved about the self-driving car.

And then it accelerated in the curve. She’s always trying to get me to do it that way.”

Google reports to be working on about 100 prototypes and will start testing them this summer with a group of safety drivers. If all goes well, Google says, the company will launch a pilot program in California in the next couple of years.