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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