Google has announced its self-driving cars have hit public roads in its hometown of Mountain View, California.
The new prototypes, which were announced last month, will be zipping around the neighbourhood at a modest, capped speed of 25 miles per hour.
The cars will have safety drivers and, unlike Google’s planned final version, will have a steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal ready for manual override if things get a bit dicey.
Although a host of Lexus SUVs retrofitted with Google’s technology have amassed over a million miles around the campus, this is the first time Google’s in-house vehicles have hit the road.
In a post on the Google+ self-driving car project page, the firm wrote: “These prototype vehicles are designed from the ground up to be fully self-driving. They’re ultimately designed to work without a steering wheel or pedals, but during this phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed.
“The prototypes’ speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and they’ll drive using the same software that our existing Lexus vehicles use — the same fleet that has self-driven over 1 million miles since we started the project.”
Google has even set up a new website, where locals can learn more about the project and share feedback on the new additions to the 'hood.
On the subject of feedback, the first G+ comment from Viet-Tam Luu makes an interesting point: “Maximum speed 10 mph below the posted speed limit? That's likely to [be] received favourably…”
Get ready to do some serious overtaking, Mountain View residents.