Google’s Self-Driving Car: Just Sit Back and Let the Car do the Driving

Google’s Self-Driving Car: Just Sit Back and Let the Car do the Driving


Google’s Self-Driving Car: Just Sit Back and Let the Car do the Driving

Google, the technology and search engine giant has created a car that has no steering wheel and no pedals. All you do in their new self-driving car is sit back and relax as a computer takes over and does all of the driving for you. This summer, it was announced that these goofy little self-driving cars will be hitting the public roads of Mountain View, California, right near the headquarters of Google.

How does it work?

Considering the self-driving car has no way for a human to drive it (no pedals or steering wheel), what exactly is one supposed to do once you get in? The car is powered by an electric motor and uses a combination of sensors and software so it can locate itself in the real world combined with highly accurate digital maps. The software can recognize people, objects, other cars, road marking, signs, and traffic lights, while still managing to abide by all the rules of the road. The car even looks out for many unpredictable hazards like cyclists and road construction.

What can it do?

The self-driving car drives two people from one location to another without any user interaction. The user requests the car to pick them up using their smartphone at a location and the final destination is already set. Once in the car, users will see no manual controls but only a start button and a big red emergency stop button to hit at any time. As they sit back and relax during their ride, they can view a small screen in the front of the vehicle that displays the weather, the speed the car is going and a small countdown animation to launch. Once they arrive at the destination, the screen shows a message to remind the passengers to take their personal belongings. As of now, the car hasn’t been made to replace a personal car, but is see as being more of a replacement for a taxi minus the human driver.

How safe is it?

Safety is one of the most obvious concerns that can make a majority of people skeptical. Google is doing its best to ensure a completely safe and fun experience for all of the future users of the self-driving car. To do this, the car has already clocked in over 700,000 miles of testing on public roads in California, including 1,000 miles of driving in very stressful environments, such as the city of San Francisco’s hills and busy streets.

Keeping the speed of the car limited to 25 mph also minimizes the kinetic energy that could possibly carry it into a crash. Seat belts are an obvious requirement that have not been overlooked. The front of the vehicle is made with a foam bumper and a flexible windscreen that is designed to absorb any energy from the impact of a person’s body.

Google has used extensive research, data and previous behaviors it has learned from its other cars and has created a defensive, considerate driving style that’s goal is to not only protect the passengers, but also other road users. For example, the car will wait a second after a traffic light turns green before it continues to drive off.



Kelly Zilinsky

I am currently a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. I am majoring in management through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and minoring in marketing through the Kelley School of Business. This summer I am interning at as an Online Marketing Intern. I enjoy running, having a good time with friends, meeting new people and growing long-lasting relationships. I hope that after I graduate from college I’ll be travel the world.

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