Google's new self-driving cars cruising Silicon Valley roads

June 25, 2015 byMichael Liedtke
Google's new self-driving cars cruising Silicon Valley roads
In this May 13, 2015, file photo, Google's new self-driving prototype car is presented during a demonstration at the Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. The latest models of Google's self-driving cars are now cruising the streets near the Internet company's Silicon Valley headquarters in a test of how they work around other vehicles driven by people. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File)

The latest models of Google's self-driving cars are now cruising the streets near the Internet company's Silicon Valley headquarters as an ambitious project to transform the way people get around shifts into its next phase.

This marks the first time that the pod-like, two-seat vehicles have been allowed on public roads since Google unveiled the next generation of its self-driving fleet more than a year ago. The cars had previously been confined to a private track on a former Air Force base located about 120 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Google announced last month that it would begin testing the curious-looking cars last month, but hadn't specified the timing until Tuesday when it disclosed the vehicles are driving up to 25 miles per hour on the roads around its Mountain View, California, office.

Google had installed its robotic driving technology in Lexus sports utility vehicles and Toyota Priuses during the first few years of testing before developing the smaller prototype. The new models are designed to work without a steering wheel or brake pedal, although the vehicles will be equipped with those features during the initial runs on public roads.

A human will also ride in the cars to take control in emergencies, just as has been the case with the self-driving Lexus vehicles during the past six years.

The debut of the pod-like car will help Google get a better understanding on how well its technology works around other vehicles steered by people.

Last year, Google Inc. told reporters it hoped to have a 100 of the self-driving prototypes in its fleet by now, but the company said it has only built 25 of them so far. All 25 have received permission from California's Department of Motor Vehicles to drive neighborhood roads.

If all goes well, Google hopes to gain regulatory clearance to remove the steering wheel, brake pedal and emergency driver from the prototype. Company executives have expressed hope that self-driving cars using its technology will be joining the flow of daily traffic by the end of this decade.

The earlier models of Google's self-driving cars had been involved in 13 minor accidents through more than 1.8 million miles on the roads, according to the company. Google blamed the collisions on other vehicles in every instance except one when the company says one of its own employees was steering.

Motorists who encounter Google's latest self-driving car while they are in Mountain can share their experience with the company at www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/contact/ .

Explore further: Google releases more details on self-driving car accidents

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dogbert
2 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2015
The question presented by the accidents they have had (mostly rear end collisions) is why are their cars being rear ended so many times?
shavera
4 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2015
because they are overly cautious drivers. They come to a stop sometimes to allow for others' right of way, which humans don't expect, and then get rear-ended.
dogbert
2 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2015
People who get rear ended frequently are generally:

1) Going too slow.

2) Stopping for no apparent reason.

3) Stopping too fast.

Stopping to yild the right of way is something which drivers do expect and anticipate.
Brutdez
5 / 5 (1) Jun 25, 2015
1.8 million miles and only 13 minor accidents, I think that's pretty damn good.
KBK
5 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2015
sadly, for rushing and self important 'me me me' America.. it has been shown to be abundantly clear...that courteous, safe, sharing caring driving gets people through traffic safer and most importantly MUCH FASTER.

What it illustrates is that there is ZERO TOLERANCE for self important speeding hacks (ahem, me..at times) who try to push traffic into doing what they desire. Drivers who push other traffic around, drivers who try to cut through traffic, having no respect for pedestrians or whatnot --- that is the part that destroys function and effectiveness in vehicular flow in a complex city environment.

Self driving cars WILL get you home faster. No matter what kind of impatient ass a driver may be, if the wheel is taken from them, and the control is taken from them... everyone gets home safer and faster.

Eg, in cities where highway speed is ~brutally~ enforced: Traffic jams.... freeway parking lots/jams - simply don't happen. People arrive home as much as an hour earlier.
syndicate_51
not rated yet Jun 26, 2015
People who get rear ended frequently are generally:

1) Going too slow.

2) Stopping for no apparent reason.

3) Stopping too fast.

Stopping to yild the right of way is something which drivers do expect and anticipate.


And in practice the car that rear ends the other is at fault for legal and insurance purposes. Why?

1). Tailgating, which is illegal, leaves to little space for stopping. An error on the following drivers part.

2). Distracted driving and inattention, again on the following drivers part.

3). Inability to correctly judge road conditions and thus not adjusting following distance. Guess who's fault? You got it! The following drivers.

In almost every rear end collision that is investigated the driver of the following vehicle takes 100% responsibility.

Emergencies on the road are going to happen. You as a driver are expected to drive to the conditions of the road and traffic to allow for such emergencies. That is all.
syndicate_51
not rated yet Jun 26, 2015
sadly, for rushing and self important 'me me me' America.. Eg, in cities where highway speed is ~brutally~ enforced: Traffic jams.... freeway parking lots/jams - simply don't happen. People arrive home as much as an hour earlier.


Due to "inefficiencies" of biological driving analogues (people) the traffic system far under performs what it is truly capable of managing. Autonomy will simply make it all run smoother. Your comment is bang on.

What I truly get a kick out of is when those known as chronic speeders tell me they save so much time even going 15kph faster than the speed limits. Although I must admit due to physics that at slower speeds this is more appreciable at higher ones it is at best almost negligible.

I love pulling out distance, velocity, time equations to prove this point on these types. It's simple to understand very quickly. If they then deny the validity of such an equation I ask them if they can break the laws of physics.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 26, 2015
In almost every rear end collision that is investigated the driver of the following vehicle takes 100% responsibility.


Except when you brake suddenly in heavy traffic and caused a pileup behind you, because every successive driver will have to brake harder and harder in order to avoid rear-ending the one in front - to the point that they just can't stop any faster.

It's practically unreasonable to keep 100 yards between all vehicles to ensure that they all can stop in time, because the traffic density would drop and the road would carry less people, which would cause traffic jams elsewhere. Much of the traffic flow just operates on the fact that the car in front won't stop too quickly.
Eikka
not rated yet Jun 26, 2015
What I truly get a kick out of is when those known as chronic speeders tell me they save so much time even going 15kph faster than the speed limits.


It becomes significant with longer commutes.

If you can increase your average speed by 15 kph over, say 80 kph, then you save 5 minutes out of a 30 minute commute and 10 minutes out of your daily driving. That's like having an extra coffee break.

googleplex
not rated yet Jun 26, 2015
Except when you brake suddenly in heavy traffic and caused a pileup behind you, because every successive driver will have to brake harder and harder in order to avoid rear-ending the one in front - to the point that they just can't stop any faster.,

If you only look as far ahead as the tail lights of the car in front then you deserve whatever happens to you.
Good driving is about anticipation and scanning near, far, mirrors, instruments. If you ever flown in IMC then you would appreciate what a good scan is.

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