Google unveils first self-driving car prototypes without steering wheels

Google continues to flesh out its self-driving car ambitions with the release of pictures of what it's planning to build

Google has shed further light on its self-driving cars vision by releasing pictures showing a prototype vehicle with no steering wheel or foot controls.

The search giant said the cars were designed to work "autonomously" and without human intervention, as they will rely on software and sensors to help passengers go from A-to-B.

When it comes to setting off on their journey, Google claimed in a blog post the prototypes will take users wherever they want to go at the "push of a button" and at a maximum speed of 25mph.

"We've been working toward the goal of vehicles that can shoulder the entire burden of driving. Just imagine: you can take a trip downtown at lunchtime without a 20-minute buffer to find parking," wrote Chris Urmson, director of Google's Self-Driving Car Project.

"Seniors can keep their freedom even if they can't keep their car keys. And drunk and distracted driving? History."

The prototypes use sensors to remove blind spots and can detect objects that are more than two football fields away in any direction, Google claims.

The interior design of the vehicles has been kept purposefully basic, and includes two seats, luggage space, start and stop buttons and a screen that shows the route being taken.

Initially, 100 prototypes will be built, and Google plans to start testing them later this summer.

"If all goes well, we'd like to run a small pilot programme here in California in the next couple of years," the blog post continues.

"We're going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology developers as we hope, we'll work with partners to bring this technology to the world safely.

Last month, Google revealed that a fleet of cars kitted out with its self-driving technology had already clocked up 70,000 miles on the roads of Mountain View, where the firm's global HQ is located.

Work on its self-driving car ambitions began in 2010, with the company stating its goal was to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use."

Google has published a video, showcasing how its prototype self-driving cars will work. It can be seen below.

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