Dezeen Magazine

Google's driverless car is now "fully functional"

News: Google has updated its prototype self-driving vehicle to make it road worthy, adding headlights and manual steering and braking to comply with road rules in California.

"We're unwrapping the best holiday gift we could've imagined: the first real build of our self-driving vehicle prototype," said Google in a statement published via its own social network G+.

The bulbous white two-seater shares its general shape with the working "mockup" the search giant's research team shared in May, when footage was released of the car driving autonomously with no steering wheel or pedals.

But while the previous grey-coloured version was controlled using buttons and had no steering wheel or brake pedal, the new vehicle has been given "typical 'car' parts" to comply with updated road laws in its home state – meaning it can now be tested on public roads.

"The vehicle we unveiled in May didn't even have real headlights," said Google. "Since then, we've been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car — for example, the typical 'car' parts like steering and braking, as well as the 'self-driving' parts like the computer and sensors."

This image: The "mockup" Google displayed in May. Top: the new prototype

Although Google has released few details of the updated design, it features similar in-built sensors designed to detect objects up to two football-field lengths away in all directions that were included in the earlier design.

When it first revealed its "mockup" car earlier this year, the search giant said that the vehicles would have a speed cap of 25 miles per hour.

But one of Google's lead software engineers later revealed that the cars were being programmed to exceed speed limits by up to 10 miles per hour for safety reasons.

The company was also forced to change its original design after the California department of motor vehicles introduced new rules, requiring all vehicles on its roads to have a steering wheel and brake pedal.

Google is currently testing its latest self-driving vehicle on a track but hopes to commence street testing in California in the new year.

Other driverless vehicles featured on Dezeen recently include Audi's autonomous racing car, which is programmed to carry passengers around a track at breakneck speeds, and Tesla's Model SD that could soon be "summoned" by owners to pick them up autonomously.