Google’s Newest Self-Driving Cars Set To Hit Public Roads This Summer

While drivers in Mountain View, CA may already be familiar with the sight of Google’s self-driving Lexus SUVs tooling around without being steered by a person, a new set of driverless prototypes will soon be joining them on public roads come this summer.

Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project writes in a blog post that the next step is a few new prototypes that are leaving the test track and heading for the roads around its California home.

Of course, much like its Lexus vehicles, these cars won’t be entirely on their own — safety drivers will be on board with removable steering wheels, accelerator pedals and brake pedals that lets them take over in case the cars’ software or sensors can’t handle things on their own.

The prototypes drive with the same software that its existing fleet uses, a fleet that the company says has spent nearly a million autonomous miles on the road, and self-driving about 10,000 miles per week.

There won’t be any zipping and zooming around going on either, as the prototype’s speed is capped at 25 mph.

“We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, 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,” Urmson writes.

Earlier this week, Google confirmed that its self-driving cars had been in 11 minor accidents, but Urmson pointed out that incident rate for those cars is below the national average for traditional motor vehicles.

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