Google has announced that some of its self-driving prototype vehicles will begin tests this summer on public roads in Mountain View, California.
Tests will be conducted with safety drivers aboard, with the cars featuring a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal that will allow drivers to take over driving if needed.
“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,” Google said in a post on its official blog.
The tech giant added that its new self-driving vehicles benefit from the Lexus RX450h fleet’s experience of nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since the beginning of its autonomous project. Recently, that fleet has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. According to Google, the number of self-driving miles its fleet has covered so far on public roads is the equivalent “of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience.”
Google says each prototype’s speed will be capped at a “neighborhood-friendly” 25 mph (40 km/h). “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,” the company said.
In the end, the Google announced it aims to run small pilot programs in the coming years with the prototypes “to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this.”