Google shows off its first complete self-driving car

The company takes the wraps off a finished prototype as it forges ahead with plans to bring driverless cars to market.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva

Google reveals the first finished version the driverless car prototype. Google

Google's vision for a self-driving car is inching closer to reality.

The Internet giant on Monday unveiled the first finished prototype of its driverless

. The vehicle doesn't look very different from the model Google first revealed in May, but this one is fully functional. (The headlights on the previous mock-up model didn't even work yet, the company said in a Google+ post.)

The unfinished prototype Google first revealed in May. Google

The project, originally announced in 2010, was the first initiative to come from what would eventually become the Google X research and development lab. Other audacious projects the lab is working on includes the smart eyewear Google Glass and nanoparticles for cancer detection. The efforts come as Google continues to aggressively expand outside its dominant search business and seek alternative revenue streams.

The new prototype has a few subtle cosmetic changes, including a more polished casing for the equipment on top of the car that enables it to see the road as software directs its course.

Google also noted that the company will use manual controls -- like gas and brake pedals -- while it tests the cars, to comply with California DMV rules. The company is working on its own prototypes, but it's also looking to partner with auto manufacturers to bring self-driving cars to market within the next five years, the company said last week.