As a handful of Google’s self-driving cars venture outside California for the first time, arriving on the streets of Austin, Texas, this week, the company has revealed its plans to build many more fully autonomous prototypes, and possibly move towards mass manufacturing.
When Google introduced the low-speed, two-seater electric cars last year, it said it was going to build just 100 vehicles by the end of 2015. But speaking at the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday, Sarah Hunter, head of policy for GoogleX, said: “We’re … making a few hundred of them. We’re making them to enable our team to learn how to actually build a self-driving vehicle from the ground up.”
Last month, the Guardian revealed that Google had set up its own car company, Google Auto, to manufacture the completely driverless cars without steering wheels, brake or accelerator pedals. While Google says it has no plans to market these prototypes, and has previously talked about partnerships with established car companies, Hunter admitted that it is now considering making and selling self-driving cars itself.