A Panic Button and No Steering Wheel: A Look at Google's First Self-Driving Car

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Imagine getting into your car, sitting back and relaxing, not having to stress about hectic highway traffic, parking or just about anything else associated with the driving process. For some people, that might sound like a dream come true. 

It's been more than three years in the making, but Google has finally pulled back the curtain on a prototype of its first self-driving car. It was unveiled late yesterday by Google co-founder Sergey Brin at the Recode conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Google's prototype is tiny and appears to have a face on the front and camera attached to the top. The vehicles are not equipped with a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal. The only controls a driver has is a start button and a red “e-stop” button for panic stops

Related: Are Self-Driving Cars Only a Matter of Time?

Right now, the vehicle maxes out at 25 mph.

"They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections," Google said in a blog post announcing the prototypes.

Here's a short promo video of the self-driving car:

Earlier this month, Google showed off its self-driving tech in real-world demonstrations using vehicles made by Toyota and Lexus. 

With this project, Google is assuming the general public will gladly relinquish its control of hitting the open road to a smart car. I, for one, enjoy driving and wouldn't plan to go 100 percent driverless.

Related: The Only Thing Scarier Than Self-Driving Cars Are the Hackers Waiting to Attack Them

In the meantime, Google is planning to build about a hundred of these prototype cars and a team of safety drivers will begin testing them later this summer. "If all goes well, we’d like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years," Google said. "We’re going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as we hope, we’ll work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely."

Would you want a self-driving car? Or do you prefer having control behind the wheel? Let us know in the comments below.

Edition: July 2017

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