Sunday Driver: Google Self-Driving Cars To Roam Public Streets This Summer At Just 25 MPH

Summer is fast approaching, and that means swimming pools, backyard barbeques, vacations, and self-driving cars. Wait, what? That last one is being added to the list as Google gears up to unleash a few of the prototype autonomous vehicles it's been testing onto public roads in Mountain View, California, where the search is headquartered.

Safety drivers will be inside the self-driving vehicles, and each prototype car is capped 25 miles per hour, a speed that Google calls "neighborhood friendly." Whether that brings you comfort or not depends on how you feel about self-driving vehicles and recent reports regarding the safety of these machines.

Google Self Driving Car

Earlier this week, the Associated Press brought to light that four self-driving cars have been involved in accidents since 50 of them were deployed in California in September. Two of those accidents occurred when a driver was in control, and all four accidents happened at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour. Google and parts maker Delphi, the two companies whose sensors were used in the cars, both denied that fault in any of the fender benders.

In a followup blog post, Google pointed out that its fleet of autonomous cars have been involved in just 11 accidents in 1.7 million miles of testing, all of them minor ones causing light damage and no injuries. And of those 11 accidents, Google says its cars were never at fault.

As for this summer, Google says its prototypes are more than prepared to hit the road.

"We’ve been running the vehicles through rigorous testing at our test facilities, and ensuring our software and sensors work as they’re supposed to on this new vehicle. The new prototypes will drive with the same software that our existing fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs uses," Google said in a blog post. "That fleet has logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project, and recently has been self-driving about 10,000 miles a week. So the new prototypes already have lots of experience to draw on—in fact, it’s the equivalent of about 75 years of typical American adult driving experience."

The safety drivers on board these cars will have access to a removable steering wheel, acclerator pedal, and brake pedal in the event they need to take immediate control.