Friday, 26 June 2015

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.”

This marks the first time that the pod-like, two-seat vehicles have been allowed on public roads since Google unveiled the next generation of its self-driving fleet more than a year ago. The cars had previously been confined to a private track on a former Air Force base located about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Google had installed its robotic driving technology in Lexus sports utility vehicles and Toyota Priuses during the first few years of testing before developing the smaller prototype. The new models are designed to work without a steering wheel or brake pedal, although the vehicles will be equipped with those features during the initial runs on public roads.

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