The first rumblings of Google’s foray into self driving vehicles came back in 2013, when the company was spotted doing a few tests on some slightly aged Toyotas, mucking about with sensors and other gadgets and generally making a bit of fun out of it. It wasn’t until the middle part of last year that we heard that Google had in fact developed a car of their very own.
Following that, the industry, newspapers and websites were wowed, and slightly amused by the subsequent prototype vehicles that rolled out of Google’s premises – the rather bland look and strange angles of the vehicles seemed odd at the time. It does look a bit like a bread box, and the ‘face’ made by the front lights and bumpers sports a slightly bland vacant expression.
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Nevertheless, come 2015, the company has now begun production of the vehicle we saw last year, now offering working headlights with the car as well as the technology behind it. The vehicle is primarily designed to autonomously take people from destination to destination minus a driver or any required input – although emergency systems most likely are included to take over control.
The initial run of vehicles will be assembled at “a Roush facility” according to Chris Urmson of Google’s self drivign car project. Roush of course are involved with the manufacture of a high performance variant of the Ford Mustang, although we doubt that the latest run of Google cars will include the massive horsepower and iconic lines found on Ford’s vehicle.
Google’s hundreds strong team working on the car are, according to Urmson, located in and around the California and Detroit locations of design, manufacture and testing the car requires. Staff at Detroit are reportedly local car makers and associated technicians, mixed in with Google’s own staff. It’s an interesting mix of grease-monkeys and code-monkeys on Google’s car team.
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Nevertheless, following the first run of Google cars the company will have a fleet of around 150 semi-autonomous to fully autonomous vehicles in their arsenal, all of which will be sent west from their Detroit manufacturing location to California for testing. So far so good, but the last hurdle for Google is legislation – these cars are just not legal to allow to nip about on their lonesome, sans driver, just yet.
The Uk are already set to continue planned testing of self driving cars in certain cities, and over in the US things are also going along according to plan. This year and the next will represent the opening stages of what’s hoped to be the future adoption of self driving shuttle vehicles and other services which have come out of the testing and development of these vehicles. Stay tuned for more as it comes out.