Within a matter of month, motorists around Mountain View, California may be seeing Google’s self-driving cars on public roads, as Chris Urmson (the director overseeing this project) has announced that the Google self-driving car is nearly ready for this next phase of testing.
According to the press release, the vehicles that will be on public roadways will have “safety drivers” accompanying them, as well as:
- A capped speed limit of 25 mph
- A removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal (though the ultimate vision for the self-driving vehicle is not to have any of these features).
The new prototypes that will be road tested reportedly also have “lots of experience to draw on – in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience.”
Google Self-Driving Cars: 11 Accidents to Date
To date, the self-driving vehicles have reportedly been in 11 accidents. According to Google, its self-driving vehicles were not responsible for causing any of these car accidents, which included:
- 7 rear-end collisions (in which other vehicles rear ended the self-driving vehicles in every case)
- 2 sideswipes
- 1 accident caused when another vehicle ran a red light.
Interestingly, in reporting these collisions, Google has noted that:
- It’s sensors and algorithms are far less error-prone than human drivers (statistically speaking).
- The interactions with (or collisions with) human drivers are helping to refine the existing algorithms, contributing to even safer self-driving vehicles.
Commenting on the next steps for the Google self-driving cars, Urmson stated:
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. In the coming years, we’d like to run small pilot programs with our prototypes to learn what people would like to do with vehicles like this.
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