The world has finally seen what the Google self driving car looks like, and not everyone likes the look of it. It certainly looks nothing like most cars on the road now and has been ridiculed by some people for looking a bit silly.
While the technology company has spent years publicly testing their equipment in modified conventional cars, it seems that they were also secretly working on a unique car model of their own.
The idea behind self driving vehicles has gained a lot of fans, although there are also those who are far from convinced by it. What are the main points worth considering when looking at this new autonomous vehicle and how successful it is likely to be in changing the way we drive?
It has to be said that it is going to take a bit of time to get used to the strange looks on the Google car. It looks a bit like a toy car and probably doesn’t match most people’s image of their dream car. Despite this, some critics have described it as cute. It is built mainly of foam and plastic, with flexible windshields. If the outside is a bit unusual then even more surprises await us inside it. First of all, there is no steering wheel. Sure, we know that it’s a self driving car but we still kind of expected that any car would have a steering wheel inside it. There are no pedals either, or indeed any traditional driver controls. The word from the company is that they decided that it was safer to take away conventional driver controls altogether, as passengers could get nervous and make a rash move when they thought that the car was in danger. There are two seats inside it for the passengers. An initial batch of 100 cars is going to be made for testing purposes. It seems safe to say that everyone who steps inside of these Google cars is going to feel a bit strange at first. Being driven around by a car just isn’t something that seems right, although as they become more common they should start to see normal to us.
The Safety and Insurance
One of the big factors stated by advocates of self driving cars is that they are safer than human controlled ones. This is because human drivers can get tired or distracted while machines can’t. Sources at Google suggest that the only crashes experienced in their years of testing autonomous vehicles were all caused by human error. The car comes packed with sensors and navigation equipment that can detect and avoid possible problems easily. The top speed it can achieve is 25 mph / 40 km/h. One interesting point raised by this vehicle is around who would be responsible for accidents involving driverless cars. If there is no human driver inside the vehicle then who has to be insured? It certainly couldn’t be the fault of someone sitting there innocently if the car crashes. It is a complicated subject and makes us wonder how we will deal with getting and comparing insurance deals for autonomous cars in the future.
While a lot of talk so far has been around how the Google car looks and how safe it is, what about the convenience aspect? Basically, this is going to be like a private taxi that takes you anywhere at any time. This means that someone who can’t drive can now get around easily without having to learn all the necessary skills for driving and taking a test. This could also be a huge benefit for anyone who is too young or too sick to drive. It will also cut out the dangers of drink driving if you just need to stumble into your autonomous car and make it take you home after a party. There is no doubt that some drivers will see these vehicles as taking the fun out of driving but there are many other far reaching consequences that we need to think about as well. If the era of the driverless car is about to start then it is going to change the way we get around forever. We’ll just need to wait and see whether that turns out to be a good thing or not.