Some parts of Google’s self-driving car are still mysterious, but slowly more pieces of that mystery are being uncovered. One mystery, in particular, has been the inside of the car. While Google has allowed dozens of journalists, random lucky souls, and Google employees (of course) to ride in the car, only on very few occasions have we been able to see the inside. The company specifically told journalists not to take pictures of the inside at an event earlier this year, and we barely got a glimpse into a very early prototype in Google’s “A First Drive” video last summer. Now, with a couple of patents Google has received, we’re getting a more detailed look inside for the first time…
First of note, however, is the external appearance of the vehicle. In the first of these two patents, the outside of the vehicle looks identical to the most recent prototypes that are out on the road in Mountain View and Austin. This means that, while we can’t know anything for sure, the internals described in the same patents should be pretty close to reality. In the first photo below, you can see what the patent labels as a heads-up display in the front of the car, a couple of cup holders, a control panels, and more. You can also see the control panel with a “GO” button, lock and unlock buttons, window buttons, internal lights and volume buttons, and a “STOP NOW” emergency killswitch.
Additionally, a second patent that surfaced today (via The Washington Post) describes an interesting system of outside signs to communicate with pedestrians. While the current prototypes are covered with artwork created by the residents of Mountain View and Austin, it looks like a future model might instead sport some screens that change to depict different messages for pedestrians. These include — at least as seen in the patent — a safe to cross sign, a stop sign, and a do not cross sign. These are just a few examples, but the patent also suggests that the cars could communicate in other ways — namely, though a speaker that tells pedestrians it is “coming through,” for example.
Here’s a gallery of images from the patents:
We’ve been following the self-driving car very closely over the last several months, and the car’s November report is just a few days away from being published. We told you last month that as of the October report, the car managed a record of 100,000 miles without a single accident over the course of two months (following a few months of at least a single accident each). Meanwhile, we told you today that Google recently hired the engineering manager for Tesla’s Autopilot software, although his LinkedIn profile shows him as working as a “Software Engineer” at “Google Robotics”.