Google is taking it to the streets. The Google Self Driving Car project suggests bringing a new level of safety to the road while making driving truly accessible for the first time. Having recently turned over 700,000 testing miles on the streets of Mountain View CA Google is making progress. Although it’s early days in the reality testing, Google is collecting big data and making big steps forward in refining the user experience.
Considering the challenges of getting this kind of technology platform sorted out you shouldn’t expect a Google Car to be in ever garage any time soon. But the timetable for prototype implementation is likely much closer. What’s interesting is the ambition of this project. On one hand we have a simple little statement outlining the goal to improve safety and make cars accessible and on the other we have the enormous global ambitions of the Google Self Driving Car project.
I recently wrote about an innovative interactive technology related to how we consume movies. I suggested it was the next step forward for the film industry and a way for it to remain relevant in the long run. With this project Google is attempting innovation on a entirely more massive scale. Google whether they admit it or not are essentially attempting to rewrite the very nature of the relationship we have with the car. Even if they fall short they would move the bar significantly.
It’s said that experience design is the most complex part of product development and I believe that to be true. It’s often hard to advocate for let alone achieve. But this project by definition it is all about fundamental change in the way we experience a global transportation process so the focus on the user experience has to be baked in. Google should be congratulated for focusing on the hard science in support of the real prize of re-writing how we relate to and interact with the car.
It will be fascinating to watch as this project moves through its testing phases as the technology develops. Even more interesting will be whether Google ultimately plans to make the underlying technology portable and available to the entire transportation sector or rather if they intend to build their own platform for it. Either way it would represent a paradigm shift in our automotive experience. Interestingly it’s because Google is not a car company that they just might make it work.
Follow Ted Blanchard on Twitter. Ted Blanchard is a Senior Creative Producer, Art Director and Design Practitioner. www.tedblanchard.ca