Google is taking its driverless cars off the test track and on to the roads of Mountain View, California, over the summer. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that its existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses. That fleet has logged nearly 1m autonomous miles on the roads since Google started the project, and has recently been clocking up around 10,000 driverless miles per week.
Each prototype’s speed is capped at 25mph, and during the next phase of testing, the cars will have safety drivers onboard, with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed.
Google says is it 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, such as where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion.
Google revealed earlier this week that in six years of driverless car tests, it had suffered 11 minor accidents, none of which were the fault of the driverless car. Eight out of the 11 involved the car behind driving into the driverless car.