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CNET News Video: Inside Scoop: Why Google is doubling down on self-driving cars
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CNET News Video: Inside Scoop: Why Google is doubling down on self-driving cars

5:01 /

Another top-secret Google project is revealed: a self-driving car built from scratch. CNET's Seth Rosenblatt explains the prototype vehicle's capabilities and when we might see it on the road.

[MUSIC]. Hello, and welcome to Inside Scoop, I'm Sumi Das, joining me is Senior Writer for C/NET News, Seth Rosenblatt. Seth, thanks for being with us. Hi, Sumi. Okay, so it wasn't that long ago that we were talking about our first test drive in the Google self driving car. Yup. Those were Lexus' Yes. Now it seems that Google has doubled down on this self driving car technology. They've created their own car. Mm-hm. From scratch. They've built it from the ground up. Yes. Tell us about it. Well they didn't just double down, they shrunk it by a least half. It's tiny. Tiny, tiny little thing. Two seater. It looks a little bit like a like one of the new Fiats, but without the nose. Yeah. It doesn't have a gas engine. No internal combustion engine. It's got a motor driven by an electric battery. And actually it has two motors. One is a backup in case the first one fails. And the thing that everybody keeps talking about is the fact that there's no steering wheel. Yes. No steering wheel, No gas pedal. No brakes. You sit in. You push a button and you pray. [LAUGH]. Although you, you and I felt pretty comfortable in the car. It was, it was amazingly safe. Okay. So the cars that we were in were these, these Lexus SUVs that had been. Basically had been hacked. They've been totally hacked. They've been adapted with Google's self-driving technology, but they were standard Lexus'. They could go as fast as the Lexus SUV can normally go with a human driver. These cars are something special. They are limited to 25 miles per hour. And because of the way the technology works, it needs that, that spire on top of the roof to see the world around it. The cars don't have as many restrictions in terms of what it can see. The Lexus roof was quite large and it created some blind spots for the car. Google says that these cars that they've designed don't have that issue. Any other capabilities that these cars that they've built. Mm-hm. Have that, the, that maybe were limiting factors in the Lexuses and Toyotas that they hacked. Sure, so one of the things that they've done with these cars is again changed their, changed them so they can only go 25 miles per hour. They have, they're rated for crashes in the front at 25 miles per hour, 30 miles per hour in back to account for whiplash. Mm-hm. And they're, they're really just the kinda thing, they're, they're almost like golf carts, you know? Yeah, they reminded me of the GEM, you know the [CROSSTALK] [INAUDIBLE] car the GEM. Yeah. Yeah. I also read that they have sensors that can see, basically, the distance of two football fields in any direction. Yes, yes. Is that something that the Lexus's and Toyota's have? I think that's new. I think the sensors, yeah, the sensors they were able to put on the, Lexus's and Toyota, were not quite as developed as the one that are involved in this car. Google has gotten quite far with this technology using Lexus and Toyota cars. Mm-hm. Why they decided to do this? I mean it's a big effort to build a car from scratch. Huge effort. And they told us, each one of these cars cost around $150,000. Which you know for you and I, it's a lot of money but for Google it's what they find in their couch when there,. [LAUGH]. You know, after, after watching the game. Right. So, why the Google invest in these custom and somewhat expensive cars? I think the answer is that. They feel that self driving technology isn't just about the car being able to go where it needs to go without a human steering it. It's also about changing what the car can be. Mm-hm. The statistics are on Google's side here. Between the ages of 4 and 34 the number one cause of death in the United States is, are car crashes. Right. 40% of those are, are bicyclist and pedestrians, which horrific. Google has something to the, to the argument, where they say that you know, that people who are too old to drive safely. People who have infirmities and can't drive safely, can't if they're blind or they have other vision impairments. Or they're on medication [CROSSTALK] Mm-hm. That makes it very dangerous to operate a, a vehicle. This could be a huge, huge thing for them. This could totally change their lives and their mobility. Absolutely. Another thing is a lot of people getting to their public transportation can be a huge deal because it's that first and last mile. And something like this can solve that. Mm-hm. Google has talked about you know, fleets of self driving cars, and,and people being able to get around. It's not necessarily something that you must have to get around. But I think it can solve a lot of, mobility problems for people and that's what makes this so exciting. Right. At he very least yet another indication that it's not, if self driving cars become a reality it's, it's more when. Absolutely. Okay, Seth Rosenblatt, thanks for joining us. Thanks you Sumi. For Inside Scoop, I'm Sumi Das. Thanks for watching. [MUSIC]

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