It's been a while since Google last provided an update on its self-driving car, and today it's detailing just what the project has been up to over the last year and a half. The project is now focusing on the car's ability to drive through cities — not just freeways — a task that requires it to be able to sense and consider everything from complex intersections to passing pedestrians. Google says that its self-driving car can now detect "hundreds of distinct objects" at once, including stop signs held by crossing guards and turn signals made by cyclists.
Google's car has learned to handle thousands of city situations over two years
The self-driving car is able to adapt to changes in the road too. In a video, Google shows how the car can detect closed lanes and automatically begin to merge into an open one, or see a vehicle parked on the shoulder and move out wider into its own lane to avoid it. The self-driving car's city testing has occurred in Google's hometown of Mountain View, California. Overall, Google's vehicles have now traveled 700,000 miles on the road — up from 300,000 miles in August of 2012.
Google says that it's come a long way over those miles. "Thousands of situations on city streets that would have stumped us two years ago can now be navigated autonomously," project director Chris Urmson writes in a blog post. Urmson suggests that the car may still be limited in where it can travel, however. Before it moves on to another town, Urmson writes that it'll first need to be taught to take on more streets in Mountain View and tested there.