Google’s self-driving cars are almost ready to appear on public roads.
The autonomous two-seaters have so far been confined to the test track, but this summer, they’ll start showing up on the roads of Mountain View, California, Chris Urmson, Director of Google Self-Driving Car Project, announced in a blog post Friday.
Google unveiled its self-driving car prototype in May 2014. It’s a sensor-packed vehicle without a steering wheel, accelerator or brakes; as far as drivers — or should we call them passengers — are concerned, there’s little more there than a big “stop” button for emergencies.
The cars that will drive themselves on California’s public roads will have removable accelerator and brake pedals, as well as a steering wheel, and they’ll have Google’s “safety drivers” aboard. As far as speed goes, they’ll be capped at a maximum 25mph.
According to Urmson, the new cars will have the same software as the company’s fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs, which logged a million autonomous miles on the road.
“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,” he wrote.
In January, Google said it plans to have driverless cars ready for production by 2020. A recent analysis indicated that there was a total of 11 accidents involving Google’s self-driving cars so far, but all of the accidents were minor. Furthermore, in many cases the cars weren’t in self-driving mode at the time of accident, and Google said its self-driving cars were not the cause of the accident in any of them.