Google’s driverless car looks cool, but could it handle a Canadian winter?
WATCH: Imagine a world where no one drives drunk and no driver makes reckless moves. Google has developed a prototype of a tiny vehicle the company says will change the world. Robin Gill reports.
TORONTO – Buckle up – the future is here.
Google has officially upped the driverless car game, revealing Wednesday that it is building a car with no steering wheel, brake or gas pedal. No, this isn’t a joke.
The electric-powered car would have two buttons – one for start and one for stop – theoretically allowing the driver to sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
“It reminded me of catching a chairlift by yourself, a bit of solitude I found really enjoyable,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin of his first ride in the vehicle.
Google hopes to have 100 prototypes of the “car” (is it still a car if it doesn’t have a steering wheel?) on the road within a year.
Though the self-controlled cars are a long way away from being sold to the public, the idea got us thinking – could an autonomous vehicle handle the slick, unpredictable and often treacherous conditions of Canada’s roads in the winter?
After all, being able to grab the wheel in the event of a slippery sideways turn is often helpful – providing there is a safe place for your Tim Hortons.
Google’s cars do have one thing going for them – speed.
The vehicles only reach a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h) and any good Canadian commuter knows that taking it slow down a stretch of road that has yet to be plowed is vital in avoiding fender benders.
Plus, without a brake pedal for people to rely on, drivers may be less likely to slam on the brakes abruptly, causing them to lose traction in their tires and end up in an uncontrollable slide.
If the cars are retrofitted with the same technology and sensors as Google’s first driverless car – which keeps track of the distance from the car ahead of it – it will prevent drivers from following too closely in icy conditions.
And, while it goes against the current hands-fee laws in Canada, having a car you don’t have to control means you might be able to text your boss to tell them you’ll be late again thanks to the snow.
According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation in Ontario, Transport Canada is evaluating the technology and keeping track of driverless car developments, but there is currently no legislation to make the vehicles legal here at home.
– With a file from The Canadian Press
© Shaw Media, 2014