At the same opportunity, Chris Urmson explained (a little bit) what Google is aiming at with its self-driving vehicle. "Our goal is to have the vehicle driving to any desired destination upon the push of a button", he said. "Our vehicles do have neither a steering wheel nor a gas or brake pedal - and they do not even need them, because our sensors and our software completely assume the task of driving."
He added that the goal of Google's Self-Driving Car project was developing a completely autonomous vehicle from the very beginning, "because we are convinced that the safety on the roads can be significantly improved through such vehicles." Self-driving cars will help people that are blind, physically handicapped or unable to drive a car for other reasons, Urmson said.
The Google expert said he hopes to start test drives with the self-driving cars on public roads in northern California during the course of this year. By the same token, the company plans to launch smaller model trials over the next couple of years. Until the permission for tests on public roads will be granted, the company plans to continue tests on its private test area - in different terrain and under a broad range of different conditions.
In this context, the testers confront the vehicles with traffic lights, road works, cyclists and pedestrians - "simply everything that makes a very busy and highly frequented road. In addition, dozens of Lexus cars equipped the same way perform test drives on public roads; in the meantime, the test fleet has achieved more than 1000.000 kilometres.