Google's self-driving prototype vehicle revealed

After months of pre-production work Google has unveiled its first self-driving vehicle prototype to the world, which has been described as a cross between a VW Beetle and a golf cart.

The vehicle, which can navigate and drive by itself, also features no steering wheel, brakes or acceleration pedal. In essence, the installed software and sensors do all the work, as Google explained in its latest blog post.

In agreement with four US states, the internet giant has to ensure a human driver is behind the wheel at all times. As part of the ongoing testing process, Google have been test driving the vehicles and recently gave the public the opportunity to sit in the front seat and see how it works. 

Under the watchful eye of Google, the public took the vehicles for a spin and, in general, responded warmly to the new concept. 

"The human feeling of it is very well engineered, and it is very smooth," said an man identified only as Nick.

"There's nothing that makes you feel the least bit threatened."

However, Google have revealed that the cars won't always need a person in the front seat monitoring safety. The company said the cars can detect both moving and static objects up to 180m away in any direction and are able to adjust speed and braking accordingly.

Certainly impressive features, especially from a prototype with no glove box or stereo and only limited dashboard controls.

"Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of our project," Google's blog read.

"Because we think this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can't drive. We're now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves - just push a button and they'll take you where you want to go."

Google plans to build around 100 more vehicles and begin testing them later this year and, if successful, a pilot program will be run over the next few years. This will be of real note for fleet managers around the world as we will get a real glimpse into how they will be integrated into society.

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