Google To Unleash Robot Cars On World This Summer

A very small part of the world. Okay, just Mountain View, California

Google's Self-Driving Car
Google's Self-Driving Car
Google

For years, the car of the future has been stuck going in circles. Although Google's converted self-driving Lexuses have hit the road in a few select areas, the company's custom-designed fully robotic self-driving car has been confined to the test track. But there's only so much that can be learned in a testing zone, even for an autonomous car. Announced today, Google's cars will like fledgling birds leave their nest, and travel forth onto the streets of Mountain View, California. And they'll do so very, very slowly. For their city driving, Google is capping the cars' speed at a neighborhood-friendly 25 mph.

This will be the first time Google's specially designed cars go onto the road, but the cars' brains have already been there, logging miles and miles on California streets in a virtual simulation. The robot cars will use the same software as the converted Lexuses, and they'll have human "safety drivers" on board. These humans will have access to a steering wheel and gas pedals for the tests, but that's a limited feature. Google designed its weird, rounded cars to be fully autonomous, not optionally driven, and to cement that mandate, the company plans to strip the very trappings of driving from the inside of its automobiles.

When Google's cars do go on the road, they'll be ready to avoid cows. Hopefully next they'll find out how to dodge the human drivers that keep crashing into them.

Watch a short video about the car below: