Google’s self-driving cars are poised to move from the test tracks to public roads this summer.
The company’s robot vehicles have yet to engage with regular traffic and so far been confined to private roads. While the Silicon Valley firm has used autonomous vehicles on public roads, these have been modified Lexus SUVs.
Chris Urmson, director of Google Self Driving Car Project, says he has no intention of rushing the car out for the general public to use.
It will be ready when we are confident of safety and people are ready to use them,” said Urmson speaking to AP.
“We have set a goal internally. My elder son is 11 and he gets his driver’s licence in a little over four years. We want to make sure he doesn’t have to do that.”
Sometime over the summer we will have them out on the roads in Mountain View, California, he added.
Urmson recently reported that the company’s fleet of 25 cars had driven more than 1.7 million miles with only 11 minor accidents.
“Not once,” he said “was the self-driving car the cause.”
When the cars take to public roads they will have drivers on board in case of emergencies.
But Jaime Waydo, systems engineer for the project, says mass produced vehicles will not have a steering wheel nor other controls. During the tests the cars will be limited to 40kph (25mph).
The UK government has recently said it would help fund four projects that will test self-drive cars in Coventry, Greenwich, Bristol and Milton Keynes.