New Google self-driving vehicle to hit the roads

May 18, 2015 // By Rich Pell
Google has announced the next phase of its self-driving car project in which several prototype versions of its self-driving cars will be tested on the public streets of Mountain View, California - the company's hometown - sometime this summer.

The move represents another step toward the consumerization of autonomous vehicles. While the company has been testing its original self-driving cars - modified Toyota Lexus SUVs - on public roads for some time, the new prototypes are specifically designed as fully autonomous electric vehicles intended for carrying passengers to designated destinations.

The new two-seater prototype, which is being described as "pod-like" and "bubble shaped," can only go up to 25 miles per hour - as it does not meet federally required safety requirements - and uses the same software as the company's existing fleet of self-driving vehicles. During this next test phase of testing the vehicle will have a steering wheel that is removable and accessible - along with an accelerator and brake pedal - to a
"safety driver" that will accompany each ride. 

Google's existing self-driving vehicles have logged almost a million autonomous miles on the road and are currently logging an additional 10,000 miles a week, says Chris Urmson, Director, Google Self-Driving Car Project. "So the new prototypes already 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 Car Project