RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (USATODAY.com) — Google is building a fleet of electric-powered self-driving cars that it plans to begin testing by the end of the year.
The technology giant plans to test the compact two-seat vehicles with safety drivers, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in an interview on Tuesday night.
Brin says the cars are part of Google's effort to reengineer transportation.
"What I'm excited about is how we could change transportation today," Brin said. "If you look at people who are too old, too young, or disabled, and can't get around, that's a big challenge for them."
Google plans to build 100 to 200 prototypes.
The Google cars do not have a steering wheel, brakes or gas pedal but come equipped with sensors and software designed to help them steer clear of accidents. The driver has a button he or she can push to stop the car in case of emergency. The cars can't go any faster than 25 miles per hour.
"We took a look from the ground up of what a self-driving car would look like," Brin said at the Code conference.
It's unclear if Google plans to manufacture the cars or if it will decide instead to supply the technology to carmakers. But Brin said he's hopeful regulators will agree that cars can operate safely without a driver.
So far the cars have operated without incident, Brin said. They have two feet of foam on the front and use glass instead of plastic.