8/22/2012—Back in 2010, the auto world was abuzz with Google’s revelation that it had been conducting some serious on-the-road research with cars designed to drive themselves.
As you may recall, Google has been working with roboticists, engineers, and an array of other smart, innovative folks to equip the vehicles with cameras, radar sensors, laser range finders, detailed maps, and connectivity to Google’s data centers—all of which allow the cars to navigate their surroundings without a driver at the wheel. By fall of 2010, the cars had logged a collective 140,000 miles on public roadways.
But where are they now? Are Google’s self-driving vehicles still out there?
It turns out they are, including the Lexus RX 450h shown above, as Google reminded us via a blog post this month:
“Our vehicles, of which about a dozen are on the road at any given time, have now completed more than 300,000 miles of testing. They’ve covered a wide range of traffic conditions, and there hasn’t been a single accident under computer control.
We’re encouraged by this progress, but there’s still a long road ahead. 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.”
So there you have it. If you see a Lexus RX 450h cruising along a mountain road this winter with a curious device on top and no driver, don’t be too alarmed.
In fact, it’s grounds for a little self-knowing pride. The brilliant minds at Google understand what Lexus drivers also know: If you’re going to try and invent something as big as the self-driving car, it helps to start with a vehicle that’s already a pillar of ahead-of-the-curve innovation.
—BRIAN GILL, MANAGING EDITOR
Vehicle shown is a special project car, modified with non-Genuine Lexus parts and accessories. Modification with these non-Genuine Lexus parts or accessories will void the Lexus warranty, may negatively impact vehicle performance and safety, and may not be street legal.