Only a single person is required in an emergency to take over the more compact car with a detachable steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal.

The new vehicle was put under some significant stress before Google and the Department of Transportation okayed it to interact with primate-operated vehicles. “We’ve made the car hot, we’ve made the car cold, we’ve done reliability testing, we drive the car through a durability ‘bump track’”, said Google systems engineer Jaime Waydo in a video of the new vehicle the company put out today.

There’s been visible progress since Google’s last car was released into the wild. The latest vehicle will be assisted, if need be, by a single person with a detachable steering wheel, gas pedal and brake pedal in case it needs to be taken over. Older versions required a two-person team of emergency operators.

 

There are a lot of ducks to get in a row before self-driving vehicles become a regular feature on US highways. Nevada’s Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Ilia told The Guardian that the state had been asked to “brighten up the lane-striping and the buttons”, something that is probably good for all drivers everywhere. But it does point up a significant problem with the potentially cost-saving (and life-saving) innovations: they require regular, functioning, regularly maintained highway infrastructure.

There are a lot of ducks to get in a row before self-driving vehicles become a regular feature on US highways. Nevada’s Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Ilia told The Guardian  points up a significant problem with the potentially cost-saving (and life-saving) innovations: they require regular, functioning, regularly maintained highway infrastructure. Much of the US States can’t even afford to repair its bridges, much less repaint the dotted lines and reflectors on its highways.

Google said its ultimate goal was “a vehicle that could shoulder the entire burden of driving” in a release issued Friday morning. “To provide the best experience we can, we’ll need to master snow-covered roadways, interpret temporary construction signals and handle other tricky situations that many drivers encounter. Self-driving cars, at this point, require a special license to operate and are available only to the testers of the vehicles, rather than the general population. Both Google and Daimler are hoping to change that.

Both companies have pointed out the human error inherent in more than 90% of traffic accidents; Chris Urmson, director of Google’s project, said last year that ultimately the goal is for its cars to be “more courteous and more defensive drivers” than human beings. “Imagine never losing someone to a traffic accident again,” he said.

Google’s cars have logged more than a million autonomous hours since a few states including Nevada and California made it legal to operate them on public roadways. They have been involved in 11 accidents over the course of that testing. All 11 were the fault of human beings.

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In Silicon Valley, car drives you! Photograph: Tony Avelar/AP