Google unveils first real prototype of its self-driving car

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via AutoBlog |

Unlike the original mock up, which contained no manual controls or working headlights, the new Google self-driving car is fully functional and road-worthy. The prototype tops out at only 25 miles per hour for safety reasons, and now comes with a steering wheel and brake and gas pedals per California requirements for self-driving cars.

This prototype is the first car built specifically for Google to test their autonomous technology. Google has been testing their technology for years in other automakers cars, most recently they had 25 souped-up Lexus SUVs prowling California freeways. Google has clocked nearly one million miles on California roads.

If driverless cars make you nervous, fear not. California recently enacted a whole host of restrictions and requirements for automakers looking to test self-driving cars. Drivers must be present, alert and in the driver’s seat at all times in case they need to take control. They must have a clean driving record, complete a training regimen and report to their employers any time they’re involved in an accident or busted for a driving offense during off hours. Companies must also report how many times their vehicles unexpectedly disengage from self-driving mode, whether due to technology failure or because a human had to take over. The other three states that allow autonomous car testing, Florida, Nevada and Michigan, are much less restrictive however.

The company says the prototype will spend some time on their test track before hitting the streets of Northern California in 2015.