Google’s Self Driving Car

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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, updated on June 9th, 2023       

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We’ve all heard of Google, the trailblazing web search company. It’s grown since its 1998 beginnings into a global and multimedia and tech empire. Google never shies away from innovation. What they hope will be their next “game-changer” is their proposed line of driverless, or autonomous, cars.

Unveiled earlier this May, the prototype cars resemble a sub-compact Volkswagen Beetle or Mini and of course, feature no steering wheel, throttle, or brake pedals. Currently, the car has a reported max speed of 40km/h.

This is the tech company's first fully-built autonomous car, having modified models such as the Toyota Prius, Audi TT and Lexus RX450h in the past. The cars tested well in controlled and even road conditions. In 2012, one of Google's test cars drove a legally blind Californian man from his home, through a drive thru at a restaurant, then to a dry cleaning shop and back home, safe and sound.

Google doesn't have a plan at the moment to sell them on the open market. Even if they did, the cars aren't built cheap – they carry about $150,000(US) of equipment on board, including a $70,000(US) light radar system, dubbed “Lidar.” These are the car's “eyes,” scanning the world in real time for obstacles and other moving objects. This collected data compares against a map of the world inside its computer “brain,” giving it the power to drive itself. 

The astronomical price tag in combination with a crawling top speed means Google's autonomous cars would only be of use to people who can't drive themselves such as blind people, the elderly and disabled. 

As Google refines their technology and produce cars for the mass market, the way we drive might be turned on its head. Speaking to Drive.com.au, General Motors' product development chief Mark Reuss called the cars a “serious competitive threat” to the automotive industry. 

That might be a while off, but they could upend the taxi industry at the very least. Reports from early 2014 state Google plans to introduce a “robo-taxi” service in the United States. BMW have also produced their own self driving car, a modified 235i, showing it off at this year's Computer Electronics Show (CES.)

Only time will tell if we'll all be passengers in Google's driverless “car of the future.”

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