Google’s self-driving car project is probably one of the most audacious experiments the company has embarked upon. Today, Google announced another milestone for this project: its fleet of about a dozen autonomous cars has now driven 300,000 miles without a single accident under computer control. While this is obviously very positive news for the project, Google warns that “there’s still a long road ahead.” The cars still need to learn how to handle snow-covered roads, for example, and how to interpret temporary construction signs and other situations that could throw its systems for a loop.
It’s not clear how many of these 300,000 miles were driven on Google’s secret racecourse, by the way.
According to today’s update, Google also plans to soon let some of the team’s members drive the cars solo for their daily commutes. Currently, the cars are always driven by at least two people, but the team apparently feels that the project has reached a point where it’s safe to just have one person operate the cars.
Google also announced that it has added the Lexus RX450h hybrid car to its self-driving car family.
“One day we hope this capability will enable people to be more productive in their cars,” said Chris Urmson, Google’s engineering lead for this project, in a blog post today, “For now, our team members will remain in the driver’s seats and will take back control if needed.” There have, of course been some accidents that involved Google’s self-driving cars in the past. All of these, however, happened while humans were in control of the cars.