Here’s What Google’s First Custom-Built Self-Driving Car Looks Like Now

Google has been working on self-driving cars for a few years now — but up until recently, they were mostly modifying the heck out of existing cars, not building a vehicle from the ground up.

Back in May, they released a mockup of what they expected their first built-in-house vehicle to look like. Today, they’ve released a photo of the real deal.

Here was its original early mockup, from May:



Here’s the finalized prototype, shown today:



As you might notice, the final product ended up looking pretty darn similar to the early shots. While the vehicle still looks a bit like something out of a Richard Scarry book, some tweaks have been made. For example:

  • It has headlights now, which is a good thing. Even if a self-driving car can see other cars without headlights (thanks, RADAR!), that doesn’t mean other (non-self driving) cars can seeyou.
  • They’ve tweaked the front grill a bit, adding reflector dots and generally making it look a bitless like this emoticon: .
  • The hardware on top of the car (a camera/radar rig that spins at a few thousand RPMs and plays a huge part in giving the car its vision) has been slimmed down and packed into a fun little bubble (albeit one that looks a bit like a 70s police car siren)

Remember, we’re still a ways out from any mere mortals being able to walk in and buy a self-driving car. While things like self-parking and lane-maintenance are somewhat straight forward, a car that can navigate public city streets on its own still has a few huge obstacles to steer around. Things like rain, a dependance on incredibly detailed 3D scans of streets, and the mountain of legislation that’ll have to be worked out as these things grow in popularity.

Google says its custom semi-sentient whip should be hitting its private test tracks over the holiday break and might start popping up around Northern Californian streets in 2015.


Nicholas Kamanzi

Computer Engineer and Tech Reviewer.
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