Go, go, Google car.
Google announced Friday that it has a fleet of 25 prototype autonomous vehicles ready to roll, and they're going to start cruising the streets of the company's Mountain View, Calif., hometown starting this summer.
This is the first time Google will take its own cars, built from the ground up to be self-driving, out on public roadways. Over the last several years, Google has been test-driving more than 20 modified Lexus SUVs on city streets, logging about 10,000 miles a week, or about 1 million cumulative miles. The company says that's "the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience."
It will leverage that learning as it puts its new cars to task, a few at a time, with a human safety driver behind the removable steering wheel and manual override pedals. The cars will have their speed capped at 25 mph.
In September, California passed a law requiring computer-driven cars to be registered for use on public roads. Since that time, four of Google's self-driving Lexuses have been involved in what the company called "minor accidents." Chris Urmson, the director of Google's self-driving car project, acknowledged earlier this week that in 1.7 million miles of testing over six years, Google cars have been in 11 such fender benders, saying, "Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident."
As Google rolls out its prototypes, it looks to further develop its software to be able to handle non-textbook situations that right now require a human mind to navigate.
"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 said in a blog post Friday.