Google has taken another step forward in its mission to make an autonomous car a reality. Its super-cute Self-Driving Car prototype, which looks like it just drove out of a Pixar movie, will soon be put through its paces on real roads throughout Mountain View, California.

According to a post by the project director Chris Urmson, the cars will run the same software that was installed on the company’s Lexus RX450h SUV fleet of self-driving cars, which had “logged nearly a million autonomous miles on the roads since we started the project.” As such, these new prototypes will still enjoy the benefit of that fleet’s driving experience.

Additionally, the prototype car’s speed has a ceiling of 25 miles per hour. While that’s not particularly fast, it is just five miles under the speed limit of most major metropolitan cities. If you consider the fact that these cars might someday be deployed as an Uber-like taxi-on-demand service, Google may indeed launch them in more densely populated metro areas with 30 mph speed limits. More importantly, though, the 25 mph speed limit would probably limit the amount of damage suffered by occupants inside or outside the car should something go wrong.

Urmson explains what the next phase of testing will bring:

“We’re looking forward to learning how the community perceives and interacts with the vehicles, and to uncovering challenges that are unique to a fully self-driving vehicle—e.g., where it should stop if it can’t stop at its exact destination due to construction or congestion.’

It’s pretty exciting overall. I’m not positive, but I think this particular line of cars is outfitted with electric motors—I don’t see a tailpipe, and I’d hazard a guess that the gas cap on the side actually hides the car’s charging port.

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Imagine a fleet of self-driving cars that creates zero carbon emissions, which can ferry people to their destinations with the push of a button. I’m very much in favor of a future that looks like this—how about you?

[Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes]


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