Google's own self-driving car is almost ready to be tested on public roads. In a blog post, project director Chris Urmson says that a few of the prototype vehicles will drive around Mountain View, California, where the company is based. Safety drivers will accompany the cars, which will be capped at 25mph. Unlike Google's ultimate vision for the vehicles, these cars will come with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal.
The prototypes will be running the same software as used by Google's self-driving Lexus RX450h fleet, which formed the basis of the company's research before it announced an entirely original car. Google says that the fleet has logged almost a million miles on the road, or what Urmson characterizes as "about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience."
"We're looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles," says Urmson, "and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle — e.g. where it should stop if it can't stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion. In the coming years, we'd like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this."
Earlier this week it emerged that Google's self-driving cars have been involved in 11 accidents so far; the company claims that its vehicles weren't at fault in any instance.