New Google car has no steering wheel, brake pedal

A car with no wheel. No brake pedal. No shifting gears. And perhaps coming to a California street near you.

Google unveiled its prototypes of entirely autonomous cars on Tuesday. The car drives completely through sensors and internal controls — no steering wheel or brakes are accessible by passengers. This is a step away from Google’s previous self-driving car project, which featured the same controls seen on human-driven cars, but drove itself. Google says it is attempting the project to create a safer and more comfortable driving experience, though they are still several years out from anything that would be close to market. With Google drawing attention to its self-driving innovations, will the tech company soon add “automobile maker” to its long list of services?

“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,” says Google self-driving car project director Chris Urmson in a blog post. “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 says the car, which externally looks like a combination of a Smart Car and a Volkswagon Beetle, has sensors that can detect roadblocks, blind spots, and other objects over a distance of two football fields. Right now, the car’s speed is capped at 25 miles per hour and it is fully electric. Inside, there are two seats (with seat belts) and in place of the usual car dashboard there is a screen that displays weather and distance to destination, as well as storage space for bags or groceries. In order to start the car, passengers hit one button between the seats. The car does the rest.

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