Google on Friday surprisingly announced that its own self-driving car will soon be ready for public testing. No, you won’t be able to start using one yourself, as Google will only start small public pilot programs in the following years. But the company will use a few prototype vehicles on public roads in and around Mountain View with safety drivers aboard.
“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,” the company said about the scope of these trials.
The prototype cars will have a max speed of only 25mph, which Google describes as “neighborhood-friendly,” and safety drivers would be able to take over control at any given time with help of a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal and brake pedal.
The new prototypes will have the same software that equipped Google’s existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs. Google’s Lexus fleet logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since the company started the project, self-driving about 10,000 miles a week recently, the company said.
“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,” The company added.
A presentation video showing Google’s tiny self-driving cars in action follows below.