As 2015 speeds by, so will Google’s self-driving vehicle prototypes adorably referred to as “Koala” cars. (Except they only move at a safe and steady speed of 25 mph.) Earlier this year Google announced plans to launch several vehicles in Mountain View, and this week the self-driving cars finally hit California streets.
Currently, the cars are outfitted with a removable steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedals, as required during this phase of development, although the vehicles are still fully self-driving. Google reports they are using the same software as existing Lexus models. Google currently has the edge on the self-driving car market, especially in California. As of June 17, there are 48 of the cars registered with the DMV (25 of which are prototypes) and 202 approved California drivers. Tesla is on their heels with 12 approved vehicles and 16 drivers. Ford is bringing up the rear with its recently revealed plans to jump on board self-driving car innovation.
Google, in light of the scrutiny it received about the number of accidents the cars encountered, is inviting the public to give feedback on the Koala cars’ performance on the roads. With such swift advancement of self-driving technology and its requisite fine tuning of safety measures, it’s only a matter of time until completely safe traffic jam naps are a thing we could all enjoy.