Google Inc will begin testing self-driving cars of its own design on public roads this summer, but they will have steering wheels and brakes, which is not what the company described a year ago.
Engineers will operate 25 prototype vehicles, which use the same software as Google's self-driving Lexus RX450h sport utility vehicles that have been in operation for several years, the company said yesterday.
When the Internet search company announced a year ago that it planned to build a fleet of self-driving cars, project director Chris Urmson said the prototypes "won't have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal or brake pedal ... because they don't need them."
It turns out, however, that the prototypes will need those critical control devices after all because California requires that self-driving vehicles have manual controls during testing. Google describes the pod-like prototype, which seats two people, as "the world's first fully self-driving vehicle."
The company also said it would test new passenger and pedestrian protection technologies, including a foam front end and a flexible windshield. It also said the speed of the prototypes will be limited to 40 kph to "decrease the likelihood of severe injury" in a collision.
Via : Google Blog
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