Google’s self-driving car has been designed to be fully autonomous, which means there are no controls whatsoever within the car. The prototypes currently have a top speed of 25 MPH and while the car is still in its testing phase, the company has installed steering wheels and accelerator and brake pedals. This means that the safety driver within the car is able to take over if needed.
The latest news on Google’s self-driving car is that the company is looking for more cities to test it in. Having already tested the self-driving car in a few US states, such as California and Texas, the tech giant has now moved its tests to Washington State. However, the question on many people’s minds is whether the company plans to now test the car on international roads.
If this is indeed their plan, then the UK is one of the first to volunteer, as reported from Sky News. The report from Sky detailed a number of conversations taking place between the Department for Transport (DfT) and Google over the past three years, the latest of which was said to have taken place only a few weeks’ ago.
When talking to Sky, Isabel Dedring, the Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “It is still very early days but we would be keen for trials to happen in London whenever Google are ready to move them into other countries”.
During the testing phase, there have been reports of near misses and failings, the latest report of which came recently when one of Google’s cars nearly came into contact with a driverless car operated by Delphi Automotive PLC. According to a report from Reuters the global business director for Delphi’s automated driving program, John Absmeier, was in a self-driving Audi Q5 when a Google driverless car cut him up.
It should be noted that a spokeswoman from Delphi has since stated that “The story was taken completely out of context…It wasn’t a ‘near miss’ as described in the Reuters story.” She commented that Delphi’s car “saw the Google car move into the same lane as our car was planning to move into, but upon detecting that the lane was no longer open it decided to terminate the move and wait until it was clear again.” Despite the Delphi spokeswoman’s statement, reports such as the above have cast doubt on the safety of driverless cars, especially about driving on the busy roads of London.
Some have also questioned the logistics of Google testing its driverless car in the UK’s capital. How for instance will the tests run in London considering the capital’s average speed of 14.8 MPH which often decreases to 4 MPH during rush-hour! How will Google be able to equal the same number of miles per day that they manage to when their driverless car is tested in the US? No doubt Google has a plan, as well as answers to the questions. No doubt, we’ll find out soon if the powers that be in London are truly encouraging the company to test its driverless car in the capital…