Google’s celebrating another milestone in its self-driving car project — a 2 million milestone, in fact. The search giant’s autonomous test cars have now racked up that many miles in public road testing, which it notes adds up to about 300 years of human driving based on the average person’s yearly total.
What’s interesting about the volume of miles Google has accumulated is that Google’s self-driving software lead Dmitri Dolgov says it’s actually “relatively easy to master the first 90% of driving,” in a Medium post announcing the news. That includes freeway driving, light traffic in cities or navigating basic intersections. But the remaining 10 percent is the tricky bit — including more complex city driving scenarios, and all the myriad edge cases that present themselves in real-world situations.
That’s been the focus of Google’s last few years of testing, and Dolgov says the company is definitely pleased with their progress, despite the steeper challenge. That includes insights gained into the social aspects of driving, the combined series of subtle cues we use both with our bodies and with our cars to signal our intentions when dealing with roadways both as pedestrians and behind the wheel.
Google doesn’t say exactly how much progress it has made in mastering that last 10 percent of driving, but it points to other progress points like the ongoing development of a fourth generation of vehicle as signs that it’s definitely getting closer to a place where we’re regularly using self-driving vehicles in the real world.