5/28/2014 | 1 MINUTE READ

Google to Build Its Own Self-Driving Cars

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Google Inc. is assembling a test fleet of about 200 self-driving cars designed with an on/off button but no other controls.

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Google Inc. is assembling a test fleet of about 200 self-driving cars designed with an on/off button but no other controls. The electric two-seaters are expected to begin road tests within the year.

The bulbous cars initially will be designed to travel no faster than 25 mph. They will feature a nonthreatening "friendly" face and be equipped with a soft plastic nose and flexible plastic windshield designed to minimize injury in a collision with a pedestrian.

Chris Urmson, who heads Google's autonomous car program, tells BBC News the initial test cars will be fitted with plug-in steering, brake and acceleration controls so test drivers can take over if necessary. But he predicts such equipment eventually will be eliminated as consumer acceptance and confidence in self-driving technology grows.

Last month Google said its autonomous car project is shifting focus from tests on highways to more complex work on city streets. Like Google's other retrofitted self-driving cars, the new shuttles will use onboard laser sensors, cameras and radar to determine their surroundings and how to react to them.

Crain's Detroit Business cites unnamed sources who say Google hired Roush Enterprises Inc. in metropolitan Detroit to assemble at least 100 of the test cars. Roush is a provider of engineering, design, testing and manufacturing services.