The latest version of Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) self-driving prototype cars are set to hit public roads in California this summer, the company announced on Friday. The pod-like car runs on electricity, and needs no gas or steering wheel that is developed for self-driving.
The bubble-shaped vehicle has been tested for over a year, and more improvements have been done to the existing technology. Google stated that this is the first vehicle that was built from scratch for the purpose of self-driving. Google described the vehicle as a smart car with a shiny black bowler that hides the sensors. The car can drive and brake automatically, and can detect road hazards.
“A few of our prototype vehicles we’ve created will leave the test track and hit the familiar roads of Mountain View, California,” said project chief Chris Urmson in a blog post.
However, the pod is required to maintain a speed of 25 miles per hour as it is not fitted with airbags and other safety features recommended by the federal agencies. The car needs to be recharged every 80 miles, and will drive in a path that is thoroughly mapped by Google. Google stated that the vehicles have undergone vigorous testing in order to ensure that the software and sensors work. The tech giant uses a similar technology in Lexus SUVs which has logged more than 1.6 million kilometers.
Google is likely to include a steering wheel and gas pedal, along with a safety driver to take back the controls. About 25 pods will be tested in the neighborhoods surrounding Mountain View, California, and the number will go up to 100 gradually that will be tested in rainy and hilly areas. Google co-founder Sergey Brin stated that the ultimate goal is to eliminate human error, a main factor in 90 percent of 1,2 million road deaths every year, around the world.