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Not only does Google want to take you out of the driver’s seat — the future of driverless cars envisioned by the company may not even require you to plug in your robot automobile.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, is testing a pair of wireless charging systems for its prototype self-driving cars, according to recent documents filed with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The news was first reported by tech site IEEE Spectrum.
The two wireless charging systems, made by New York’s Hevo Power and Philadelphia-based Momentum Dynamics, are the first to be tested on Google’s latest prototype, which was revealed in June 2015. Power is transferred to the car via a “manhole cover”-style transmitter disc in the ground, eliminating the need for the operator to leave the vehicle in order to juice up — but also paving the way (literally) for Google to possibly build a Zipcar-style taxi service that could have cars that dock and recharge themselves in between passengers.
Google’s autonomous driving project began in 2009, with the twofold goal of taking people “where you want to go at the push of a button – no driving required” and reducing the 94 percent of traffic accidents that are caused by human error. To date, Google’s fleet of self-driving cars has logged almost two million miles in test drives.