Google’s self-driving cars this month passed 300,000 miles traveled. A lot more than I would have guessed. Also, incidentally, I ran across one of these interesting vehicles while visiting Mountain View (home of Google) and the surrounding area just a couple weeks ago. Of course, that’s the most likely place you’ll find one of these vehicles.
“We’ve done some testing in Nevada, Florida, Washington D.C., and other areas, but most of our testing has been in California because that’s where our team is based,” a Google spokesperson told TPM this month.
Surprisingly, the self-driving car we saw is a new one just added to fleet, the Lexus RX450h pictured below and in the videos at the bottom.
Now that the company has passed 300,000 miles, it is looking to expand the testing conditions and locations. It’s going to be covering “snow-covered roadways” and “temporary construction signals” with them now. And the company is dropping its requirement of having two people riding in them for monitoring down to one.
Lastly, the other recent change to the trial is that it’s going to allow employees (some of them, that is) to start taking these babies to work.
“Specifically, the work commutes using the Google self-driving cars ‘will take place in the San Francisco Bay Area at this pont,'” TPM reports.
“Google declined to specify just when it expected the vehicles to be commercially available, but if a successful test in March involving a legally blind passenger is any indication, the company is well on its way toward changing transportation history.”
Pretty astounding, eh? When I first heard about these, I thought they were a joke. Then, I thought ‘ok, maybe in 10 years or so.’ Now, I’m starting to think they’ll be for sale soon. We’ll see….
For now, you can check out these two videos I took of the one we saw in Palo Alto:
And here’s one more video, of much better quality, featuring the first test drive with a blind person (or, it seems, any non–Google employee):
Source: TPM (via one of our great readers)