Self-driving cars have been the stuff that science fiction stories are made of. Google is finally bringing that futuristic vision to light with a car that actually does drive without any human intervention. Google announced the self-driving car to the public this week. From first glances, it looks like the self-driving car of the future is here, and here to stay.
Inside the Google Car
At the Code Conference in California this week, Sergey Brin announced a self-driving car that doesn’t really require any help from humans at all. The car doesn’t have a steering wheel, gas pedals, or anything else that most cars have. Google’s new car isn’t just modified either, it’s a totally autonomous car that. It’s not possible for anyone to actually drive the Google car either, it’s just not an option.
The car is electric-powered, is big enough for two people, and can reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. So, what can humans do while sitting in a self-driving car? Look at the console screen in the middle of the car that displays such things as weather forecasts, push the Start button, and sit back and buckle up. That’s about all that humans can do in the new Google car. There’s a good possibility that the screen in the center of the vehicle will soon display webpages and movies too, and that means that passengers can sit back and read email or surf the web while riding.
The Google car has a smiley face on the front of it, and you may see one driving around California over the next few months. Google will test out the cars in California by putting some staff members and journalists in the front seat. So, yes, self-driving cars are a reality, they exist now, and they are going to be a thing in the very near future. Soon, very soon, cars won’t need human drivers at all – and then we can all happily text without worrying about getting a ticket or running into a sidewalk.
The Current Hindrance
The main reason why we don’t have self-driving cars on the road right now has to do with regulations and not with technology. The technology is here (as Google has demonstrated), but lawmakers aren’t ready to let these cars onto the roads just yet. There are safety concerns and a bunch of red tape to cross first. Once that happens, though, it’s just a matter of time before self-driving cars become the newest thing. Heck, a car that drives itself might just be safer than letting some motorists take to the freeways.
When will you see these cars for sale in lots? We’re looking at quite a few years into the future still (I’ll wage ten or twenty years), but self-driving cars are coming. Self-driving cars may solve a lot of environmental problems too (especially if we don’t have to actually own one car per person). But, there’s the scarier side of things to think about as well – will these cars be safe? What happens when something malfunctions? All of those fine details will be worked out soon enough, and you may just find yourself shopping for a car that doesn’t require a driver at all.