Google promised us last month that its self-driving vehicles would be hitting public roads this summer, and it looks like “this summer” means now. Yesterday, the company announced that its adorable self-driving vehicle prototypes are currently being tested on public roads in Google’s hometown of Mountain View, California. Don’t take this to mean that the vehicles will be hitting the market soon, as this is just the first in a series of numerous testing phases that the company intends to have over the next several years.
“OK Google, drive me to work.” Google announced today that its panda-shaped self-driving cars are now puttering around the streets of Mountain View, California. Quartz first reported in March that Google was likely to start trialling its cars this year. The cars can only travel 25 mph and will have drivers behind the wheel the entire time, for safety reasons—although the company has previously blamed humans for the accidents in which its cars have been. The driverless car team’s post on Google+ said that the cars will have “a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed.” Google’s modified Lexus and Toyota Prius self-driving cars have been on the streets for years, and have now racked up over 1 million miles of experience. The computational system that powered those cars is in Google’s purpose-built cars now driving around. Although the cars will have drivers and steering wheels in them while they’re being tested, Google said ultimately they’re intended to be steering-wheel free, giving the human passengers more time to check their email or watch a movie, or whatever else we like to do on our commutes when we don’t have to concentrate on the road.