"Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of our project, because we think this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can't drive. We're now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves—just push a button and they'll take you where you want to go! We'll use these vehicles to test our software and learn what it will really take to bring this technology into the world. "
The cars' speed for now has been capped at 25 mph, allowing engineers to minimize the risk of crashes during testing.
"We've designed for learning, not luxury, so we're light on creature comforts," Google said.
"But we'll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers' belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route -- and that's about it."
Google did not explain how the car navigates, although passengers would presumably punch in a destination on the dashboard screen and let the computers do the rest.
The company plans to build about 100 prototype vehicles and begin testing them later this summer. If everything goes well, Google then will run a small pilot program in California over the next few years.
[source: CNN, Google official blog]