Google’s latest self-driving prototype has been dubbed the ‘Koala’ – and in case it’s not obvious, that’s because it resembles the cute furry animal it’s named after (at least, according to project director Chris Urmson’s son).
The new project is an advancement of the self-driving car prototype that Google first introduced last year, but was so basic it didn’t have headlights. This updated pod-like vehicle features two seats and lacks pedals and a steering wheel (although current California regulations require them, so these features may need to be installed before they can hit the road). Google’s self-driving car can accelerate, brake, and recognize obstructions, traffic, and road hazards without any human intervention.
Though this version is updated, it still lacks airbags and other federally-required safety features, so it can’t travel at speeds faster than 25 mph, and can only be driven in areas thoroughly mapped by Google (sorry, no high-speed off-roading adventures for these little guys).
According to seattletimes.com, Google plans to build 25 prototypes, sending them into the neighborhoods surrounding its California headquarters for testing this summer. Eventually, Google plans to build 50 to 100, and send them into hillier, rainier, and other more complex terrain.
Google’s ‘Koala’ self-driving cars are just the next step toward the tech company achieving its goal of putting entirely driverless cars on the roads in the next five years (by 2020). Only time will tell if government regulations will be ready when the technology is.
Here at Pfeiffer Plainfield Used, we want to know–are you ready for driverless cars?