The first time I saw a prototype of Google’s self-driving car, I couldn’t help but laugh. I mean, look at it. It’s ridiculous. I joked on Twitter about a special Easter egg that could be uncovered by combining the geekiness of Google’s self-driving car with Google Glass, and people’s responses seemed to indicate that they agreed: It looks silly.

But make no mistake about it: This funny-looking car is the future.

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There will come a time when people no longer drive. They’ll still take cars to and from work and wherever else they need to go, but the car will do the driving while they read the news, watch videos or do whatever else they’d like.

This future is much closer than you think, and Google is a driving force in getting us there.

Google has been working with self-driving cars for some time now, but it has done most of its development using add-on kits that attach to vehicles including the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX. Earlier this year, however, Google unveiled its own vehicle — and now the finished version of Google’s in-house autonomous car prototype has been unveiled.

“Today we’re unwrapping the best holiday gift we could’ve imagined: the first real build of our self-driving vehicle prototype,” Google wrote on its Google+ page.

The post continued, “The vehicle we unveiled in May was an early mockup—it didn’t even have real headlights! Since then, we’ve been working on different prototypes-of-prototypes, each designed to test different systems of a self-driving car—for example, the typical “car” parts like steering and braking, as well as the ‘self-driving’ parts like the computer and sensors. We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”

Google will now continue to test the vehicle, which decades from now will be remembered as a turning point for the auto industry.

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