The next-phase of Google’s self-driving car project will kick off soon, with the company’s in-house designed autonomous vehicle set to hit public roads.
So far, Google has only been using its 20-or-so strong fleet of specifically modified, autonomous Lexus RX crossovers on public roads. During the weekend, though, the search giant announced that its in-house designed pod-like car will be hitting the streets from the northern summer.
The Google self-driving pod car was launched via a viral video campaign back in May 2014. In the December last year, the company unveiled a refined version of the design, which also had functioning headlights, and a set of removable steering wheel and pedals.
Some of these changes were necessitated by regulations. As with other autonomous vehicles registered for use on Californian roads, the Google pod car is required to have a steering wheel, pedals and a “safety driver”, who can take over if there’s a software or hardware malfunction.
Since being unveiled, Google’s cartoon-like self-driving car has been undergoing tests in carparks and closed circuits.
The road-going versions of the pod car will use the practically the same software as the company’s fleet of autonomous Lexus RX hybrids, except that the pod car’s maximum speed will be limited to 40km/h.