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Google autonomous car edges closer to production

Google

 (Google)

Back in May, Google unveiled a mock-up of a fully-autonomous car the tech giant plans to introduce to the world at some point in the near future. The car came without a steering wheel and pedals and many other features typical of a street-legal set of wheels; now, Google has unveiled a new prototype version that it says is representative of the final product.

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Yes, Google’s autonomous car is still looking very basic. That’s because the developers—understandably—are focused purely on the self-driving aspect of the car. After all, the goal of the project is to create a car that virtually anyone, including the sight-impaired, could simply hop in and request a destination—not unlike the forward-looking Johnny Cab from the 1990 version of Total Recall.

This latest prototype packs all of the individual systems Google has been testing over the past years. For example, it features a steering wheel and pedals, allowing the driver to directly control the vehicle during the testing phase, and it also features the self-driving components like the complex computer systems and sensors. It even has proper headlights this time around.  

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In the coming days, Google’s developers will be testing the prototype and others like it on a private track, and if all goes to plan public road trials will commence in California early next year.

Where it goes from there likely depends on the lessons learned, the legislative environment, and how the market takes to the concept.