Climate Action

Google unveils automated electric car

Google has unveiled a prototype for a new automated EV designed to improve safety and reduce environmental impact of road transport and the vehicle has no steering wheel or pedals

  • 30 May 2014
  • William Brittlebank

Google has unveiled a prototype for a new automated electric vehicle (EV) that could revolutionise transport.

The project, started in 2008, is designed to improve road safety and reduce environmental impact of cars and the prototype has despite having no steering wheel or pedals.

The prototype, which Google has tested in California, has an electric motor and can operate without a driver by using software that works with GPS technology to recognise locations, people, objects, roadworks and road signs.

It currently has a limited speed of 25mph and has foam bumpers and a flexible windscreen, which are thought to cause the least possible harm to pedestrians in case of an accident.

There is also an emergency button that can be pushed by passengers at any time.

Google’s co-founder Sergey Brin said during a conference that the project had the potential of “changing the world for people who are not well-served by transportation today”.

He added, You’re just sitting there, no steering wheel, no pedals. For me it was very relaxing. In about 10 seconds after getting in, I forgot I was there. It reminded me of catching a chairlift by yourself, a bit of solitude I found really enjoyable”.

The project will be piloted for a further two years at least to optimise the electric motor and improve efficiency.

The company has insisted that rather than substitute private cars, the new model could be a shared means of transportation or eventually replace taxis.