It seems that there is no stopping Google from pushing its autonomous cars into the public’s presence, even with recent reports of a number of car accidents involving precisely this type of self-driving vehicle. Starting this summer, Google will be introducing some of its test fleet to public roads for actual “out of the lab” testing. Of course, it will be taking every precaution and will include its safety engineers inside the cars for now. Though given Google’s previous sentiment, that could probably cause even more accidents.
Human drivers are terrible at obeying traffic rules and common sense. That was practically Google’s view when presented with reports about car crashes involving cars that are supposedly smarter than humans. But regardless of its views, it is, at least for now, required to put humans behind the wheel during this testing phase.
Google claims it wants to gauge how the public will really react to this technology once it’s really the road and not just in the news. There will undoubtedly be mixed reactions, with some admiring the technological progress while others worry about safety and future human enslavement. Given existing vocal sentiments on self-driving cars, there might be more of the latter, especially from lawmakers.
Of course, the tech giant will try to comply with the law, even if it doesn’t exactly subscribe to them. For example, in California test cars are required to have a steering wheel in case a human driver needs to take control. Google therefore put a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal in the cars, though those are removable because Google’s grand vision for self-driving cars don’t have any of those.
The public rollout of these autonomous cars begin sometime in summer. Google will not only be observing human reaction but also how the cars will negotiate congestion and unusual traffic conditions. The tests will be limited to the roads of Mountain View, so if you’re anywhere in the area, be on the lookout for these totally conspicuous cars driving at a very safe 25 mph.