Google has practically conquered web browsing, the smartphone OS, voice recognition, contextual computing, map and location software, search and more. So what’s next? Aside from home-automation, wearables and network accessibility, how about the way we travel nearly every single day of our lives?
Last night at the inaugural Code Conference hosted by Re/code, Google’s own Sergey Brin unveiled the first Google-manufactured self-driving car. This isn’t a modified Toyota or Lexus, this is the real deal — the future of transportation. With no brakes, gas pedals or unnecessary steering wheels, Google’s first automated automobile features a simple start button and a large display. That’s it. It’s all electric and currently only has room for two. But as you can imagine, this is only the very beginning.
The car, if you can really call it that, is small, sleek and oddly futuristic, if not a tad on the ugly side. But it has a certain charm to it. You don’t have to use your imagination much to see the smooth gray and white pod smiling at you from the front. It has what appears to be a red leather interior, and that’s it for flourishes. It’s made out of compressible foam, has a flexible plastic windshield and a unique dual motor system to keep things moving even in the event of a malfunction. The future of transportation looks like a clown car. Outside of gearheads, though, we doubt anyone is going to care about that.
On stage, Brin talked about all the marvelous things automated cars will do for us. They’ll cut down on emissions, free up parking and commuting space, empower the elderly and blind, stop drunk driving and save lives. If there’s a problem with traditional automobiles, you name it and Google thinks self-driving cars will fix it.
It may be another decade before self-driving cars are truly here to rule, but they are coming someday soon, and from the looks of it, and Google will be leading the pack.