Google robot car targets urban services

May 28, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
After years of preannouncements and speculation, Google introduced a prototype of its much-hyped self-driving car. The goal of the search engine vendor is to sell a two-seater which, logical, comes without steering wheel and pedals. Market maturity however is still some years away.

For the start, Google plans to build some 100 vehicles which however will be equipped with manual controls, said Chris Urmson, Director of Google's Self-Driving Car project. By summer, the company plans to start testing the vehicles. The next step will be a small pilot program in California which will take "a couple of years", as Urmson said. Reportedly, Urmson said he aims at "the 16th birthday of his son" as the timeline to reach series maturity for the technology. This is the case in five and a half year - which would mean that the robot car could hit the road around end of 2019.

The two-seater offers a maximum speed of some 40 km/h; information regarding the driving range has not been provided. According to reports, the vehicle comes with a plastic windshield and offers ample legroom. A large screen in the cockpit displays time, air temperature and estimated time of arrival at the destination. To start the ride, the user just enters the destination into the computer and pushes a start button.