Google unveils self-driving car prototype

<p>Google expects the cars to be on the road within the next 12 months.</p>

Google has revealed its latest prototype of its self-driving car and announced it believes they will be on the road in the next 12 months.

The company has been carrying out extensive testing on the technology contained in the vehicles but it is the first time a working prototype for public use has been revealed.

Google stated that it will build 200 cars in Detroit and is expecting to use the city as a test for the technology before rolling it out around the world.

Ron Medford, safety director for the self-driving car team at Google, said the innovation "has the potential to be the most important safety technology that the auto industry has ever seen".

Mr Medford, who was previously the deputy director of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, added that the number of road traffic accidents could be significantly cut as a result of the self-driving car.

It has been fitted with a flexible windshield to reduce injuries, while a foam-like material will be used for the car's bumper to provide better protection for pedestrians.

Controls

Initially the cars will feature controls so that drivers can take over in the event of a malfunction, but it is expected these will eventually be phased out as long as the cars are successful.

Chris Urmson, director of the company's self-driving project, stated that Google is very excited about the potential of the self-driving vehicles. He said: "It's something that will allow us to really push the capabilities of self driving technology, and understand the limitations."

The early versions of the self-driving cars will be restricted to 25mph and they will run on electric technology. However, in future this speed limiter could be increased by the firm.

Google is one of the world's largest technology companies, with its mobile phone operating system Android and its eponymous search engine among its largest success stories.

The share price of the firm rose by 2.4 per cent in the US yesterday (May 27th).

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