WASHINGTON - Google has started building its own self-driving car that it hopes to begin testing as early as this year.
"They won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal... because they don't need them. Our software and sensors do all the work," the company said in a blog post Tuesday night.
For Google, the car marks a shift away from adapting vehicles made by others in its quest to pioneer individual transport that needs only a stop-and-go function.
"It was inspiring to start with a blank sheet of paper and ask, 'What should be different about this kind of vehicle?'" the post said.
Google said it plans to build about 100 prototype vehicles.
Later this year its drivers will start testing early versions with manual controls, Google said.
"If all goes well, we'd like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years," the company said.
The top speed of the prototypes will be 25 mph.
The San Jose Mercury News called the car a "rounded, almost cuddly-looking two-seater."
The vehicles are battery powered and boast safety features like a flexible windshield and foamlike material covering the front, the paper said.
"We took a look from the ground up of what a self-driving car would look like," Google co-founder Sergey Brin told a conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He announced the prototypes there Tuesday night.
Until now Google has been re-fitting Lexus and Honda cars to work as self-driving ones.