Google is almost ready to put its self-driving cars on public roads. According to the company, the "next step" in the project involves putting its prototypes on the roads of Mountain View this summer.
Google's self-driving cars will be capped at 25mph, and each will carry a safety driver who has access to a removable steering wheel and pedals so that they can take control if they have to.
"When we started designing the world’s first fully self-driving vehicle, our goal was a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving. Vehicles that can take anyone from A to B at the push of a button could transform mobility for millions of people, whether by reducing the 94 percent of accidents caused by human error (PDF), reclaiming the billions of hours wasted in traffic, or bringing everyday destinations and new opportunities within reach of those who might otherwise be excluded by their inability to drive a car," says Chris Urmson, Director of the Self-Driving project.
According to Google, its self-driving fleet has spent the equivalent of a human life test driving.
"We’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on – in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience," says the company.
Earlier this week, a report claimed that in Google's previous testing, four out of 48 self-driving cars were involved in accidents. Google confirmed this, but stated that none of those four were the fault of its automobiles – two accidents occurred when the cars were in control, and the others while humans were controlling them. According to Google, all of the accident were low impact, having occurred when its cars were traveling below 10mph.
Still, Consumer Watchdog called for the company to make its self-driving car accident reports public.
According to Google, its self-driving cars have logged over a million miles without ever causing an accident.
Image via Google