Google’s bubbly self-driving prototype is already sitting in California traffic. The search giant this week shared an update to Google+, saying its vehicles are currently exploring the Mountain View area. So far, the autonomous cars haven’t become self-aware, which means they aren’t yet drag racing down suburban streets.
These cars aren’t actually driving around highways just yet. Instead, Google has capped the top speed at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and there’s a safety driver behind the wheel just in case. Ultimately, Google hopes these vehicles work without a steering wheel—or pedals—but, for now, it’s a safety-first approach. Drivers have no protection from the ridicule of sitting in what looks like a giant marshmallow, however.
Depending on how Google’s tests go, we could see many more prototypes on the road later this year. The 25mph cap is pretty conservative, but Google wants to make a good early impression. Maybe once people start warming up to them Google will really set them free with a higher cap—or until someone hacks into them to make them go haywire.
The goal right now is just to make sure these vehicles are safe.
Google’s self-driving project has been around for a while now, and are designed to be as safe as possible. Not only do they include state-of-the-art software that processes its surroundings, but they come equipped with “sensors designed to detect objects as far as two football fields away in all directions,” Google said.
Start getting used to it now. These little micro machines might one day be the dominant mode of transportation.