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Google’s self-driving cars roll onto public roads this summer

Fri 15 May 2015


Google’s latest self-driving car prototype is expected to make its debut on public roads in California this summer.

The two-seater driverless vehicle is the first of its type to be purpose built for self-driving, according to the tech giant. Using sensors the smart car is able to drive, brake, and identify obstacles and hazards without human intervention.

The latest design differs from Google’s first driverless prototype unveiled last year – which was so basic it even lacked real headlights. The new model although slightly more sophisticated, still does not contain air bags and does not meet state safety requirements, which limit the vehicles to 25mph.

The car is electric and needs to be recharged after 80 miles of driving. The smart vehicle is also only able to drive on roads mapped by Google.

The first cars to take to Californian roads will still feature a steering wheel and an accelerator to meet state regulations. The same law requires that a driver can take back control of the vehicle when necessary. However, Google continues to fight for more flexible regulations.

According to the company it will build and trial 25 driverless cars, mainly in the area surrounding its headquarters in Mountain View. It hopes to increase this fleet to between 50 and 100 over the next five years in order to widen its testing to varying terrains such as hills and wet road surfaces.

Sergey Brin, Google co-founder, said that the firm’s aim is to develop computer-controlled vehicles which will completely eliminate human error – a factor in around 90% of the 1.2mn road fatalities worldwide each year.

Google also hopes that its self-driving cars will help lessen traffic congestion, as well as providing support for the transportation of the elderly and disabled.

At a community talk this week Brin commented: “We want to partner to bring self-driving to all the vehicles in the world.”


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