Google’s testing new self-driving cars in California

Google Self-Driving Car prototype
Credit: Google

Google announced that it’s begun testing the latest prototypes of its self-driving car, which are designed to be fully autonomous without any sort of controls. However, during this testing phase, the cars will have removable steering wheels, as well as accelerator and brake pedals so safety drivers on board can take over if necessary.

The company announced last month it would begin testing these cars on roads in California. The prototypes will top out at 25 mph and run the same software as Google’s existing fleet of Lexus vehicles.

The announcement comes on the same day that one of Google’s autonomous cars had a close shave with another such vehicle being tested by Delphi Automotive.

John Absmeier, global business director for Delphi’s automated driving program, told Reuters that the self-driving Audi Q5 he was in was cut off by one of Google’s Lexus RX400h autonomous test vehicles. As a result, the Audi had to abort its lane change. Google declined to comment on the matter to Reuters.

Keep an eye out for Google’s new vehicles if you’re in Mountain View, California.

Update: A Delphi spokeswoman told Ars Technica that, “The story was taken completely out of context when describing a type of complex driving scenario that can occur in the real world. Our expert provided an example of a lane change scenario that our car recently experienced which, coincidentally, was with one of the Google cars also on the road at that time. It wasn’t a ‘near miss’ as described in the Reuters story.”

She added, “Our car did exactly what it was supposed to. Our car saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.”

Google Self-Driving Car Project [Google+]

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