Google has announced that is had been awarded two new patents for its self driving bubble car. One pertains to interior features, such as the touchscreen and control panel. The first thing anyone would notice about the interior of the car is the absence of any steering wheel or pedals.
Instead, there is a large touchscreen in front of the passengers (the Google car is a two seater) and a control panel placed between the seats. It has a green “Go” button, a large red “Stop NOW” button, and switches to control windows, interior lights and the volume of the sound system. Of course, there are also two cup holders, so people can enjoy their lattes while on the way to their destination.
Google has also been awarded a second patent covering a variety of external screens and a speaker, all of which are intended to allow the car to interact with pedestrians and bicyclists. The car could announce sweetly to people waiting to get to the other side of the road, “It is now safe to cross. I will wait for you.” Screens mounted on the hood and each door could also indicate to those outside the car when it is safe to cross ahead of it and when it is not, according to a report in the Washington Post.
Self driving systems are primarily intended to reduce or eliminate accidents. Particularly in crowded urban environments, the ability to interact with people on foot will be essential. There is no word if hackers could reprogram the cars to say rude things to or make inappropriate gestures at people who ignore the warnings or who engage in anti-social behavior like jay walking.
Google has enticed Robert Rose, the engineer who led the development of Tesla Autopilot software, to come work for it. His duties are not specified, but it is presumed he will be working on the Google self driving car program. The Google car seems like it would be an ideal candidate for society’s future driving needs, where car ownership is replaced with an on-demand service model. Google insists it does not want to be an automobile manufacturer, but if it doesn’t build these adorable little cars, who will?