Google is ready to take testing of its self-driving cars to the next level by unleashing them on public roads later this year.
Despite revealing its vehicles had not got through their testing period without a few minor scrapes, the company has confirmed that they will soon be launching on the streets of the company’s home town of Mountain View, California.
The search giant says it has a “few” models ready to embark on the next phase of testing, which will be limited to 25mph and feature removable steering wheels, accelerator and brake pedals to ensure the drivers can also gain control if needed.
The move comes after questions were raised over Google’s testing programme, forcing the company to ramp up the amount of testing it performs, with the newest vehicles now going through the same testing processes completed by its modified self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs.
The company revealed earlier this week that its prototype vehicles have been involved in 11 accidents over the last six years of testing – however, all of these were the result of errors by other (human) drivers.
This comes with the testing team having travelled over 1.7 million miles in a fleet of more than 20 vehicles, Google project manager Chris Urmson revealed, saying that the consequences of the 11 accidents were only ‘light damage, no injuries’.
“If you spend enough time on the road, accidents will happen whether you’re in a car or a self-driving car,” he added.
The new level of testing will allow Google to “uncover challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle,” including stopping distances if needing to slow down in an emergency, but will also help locals become acclimatised to the vehicles.
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