Why Google Made Its Self-Driving Car So Darn Cute

While Google is notorious for knowing computers better than people, it understands that people might be a bit afraid of its self-driving cars. So rather than show the power and cool-factor of its new autonomous vehicles, Google made them look like Little Tikes cars, built them out of foam, and capped speeds at 25mph. The result is that attention stays squarely on their world-changing potential. The option to evolve into that power and cool remains, but with a lot less fear about the risks of self-driving vehicles.

 

 

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While Google is notorious for knowing computers better than people, it understands that we might be a bit afraid of its self-driving cars.

So rather than show the power and cool-factor of its new autonomous vehicles…

…they look like Little Tikes cars.

That Smile, Though

The cute design minimizes fear about the risks of self-driving vehicles. This way, attention stays squarely on their world-changing potential. Just look at that goofy smile!

Even The Logo Has The Smile

At First Glance

They might look a bit silly, but Google retains the option to evolve its car towards power and cool later.

Safety First

The car has about two feet worth of foam in the front to dampen any collision, and a plastic windshield instead of shatterable glass.

On The Move, Slowly

Google limited the speed of these prototypes to 25 miles per hour to reduce to chance of injury in case there is a crash.

Two Seats — No Back Or Front

There’s no steering wheel, pedals, or gear shift. Instead, the cars have two sets of mechanical controls so they have a backup if one fails.

Eyes And Ears

For being a big laser turret, the sensors on Google’s car aren’t that ominous. They give the car a 360-degree view, and its Volkswagon Bug-style body shape minimizes blindspots.

Design Lab

Google took inspiration from everything from fashionable dresses to the Nest thermostat to design its self-driving car.

GoogleTron

If you look closely, you can see a Tron lightcycle provided some spark for Google’s design team.

Ancestor

Some say the Google car looks like the Tata Nano, a four-door city car sold in India.

Google From The Ground Up

While previous prototypes were basically self-driving systems mounted onto traditional cars, Google made this version from scratch.

The Pieces Coming Together

That gave it the freedom to design every part of the car for safety and reliability.

Safety Meets…Safety

For example, Google could choose exactly where the seatbelts went.

The Result?

A car from the future people are willing to get inside today.

It Drives, You Ride

And it sure looks fun. It’s not too spacious width-wise, but it’s got plenty of headroom and big windows to enjoy the view.

Not Quite All The Amenities

The car comes equipped cup holders, and what looks like an emergency button. I’d expect strong entertainment systems in the backs of these things.

Roll Out

Google plans to build 100 to 200 of these prototypes, and work towards safety approval by the end of the year. The future’s coming a lot faster than we thought.