Google currently has 24 Lexus RX450h SUVs and 34 prototype vehicles on the road with autonomous driving capability. The Google autonomous fleet has so far racked up 1,725,911 miles driven in autonomous mode, with 1,158,921 miles driven manually. The fleet is averaging 15K to 17K autonomous miles per week, with testing locations in Mountain View, California; Kirkland, Washington; Phoenix, Arizona; and Austin, Texas.
The Google autonomous driving system recognizes cyclists as unique users of the road, whom the software treats conservatively. Among the examples cited:
When the sensors detect a parallel-parked car with an open door near a cyclist, the autonomous car is programmed to slow down or nudge over to give the rider enough space to move towards the center of the lane and avoid the door.
Google autonomous cars give cyclists ample buffer room when passing.
Google autonomous cars won’t squeeze by when cyclists take the center of the lane, even if there’s technically enough space.
The sensors can detect a cyclist’s hand signals as an indication of an intention to make a turn or shift over. The software is designed to remember previous signals from a rider so it can better anticipate a rider’s turn down the road.
Using machine learning, Google engineers have trained the software to recognize many different types of bikes—from multicolored frames, big wheels, bikes with car seats, tandem bikes, conference bikes, and unicycles.
|More than 100 riders pedal around autonomous car near Google’s campus. Click to enlarge.|
In the reports, Google lists any collisions—even minor. For June, these consisted of:
6 June 2016: A Google prototype autonomous vehicle (Google AV) in Austin sustained a small scrape to its front right fender after another vehicle approaching the Google AV from behind in an adjacent right turn-only lane crossed into the lane occupied by the Google AV and made slight contact with the side of the vehicle.
The other vehicle sustained a scrape on its left rear quarter panel. No injuries were reported
15 June 2016: Another Google AV in Austin was rear-ended. The Google AV was stopped at a red light for around one minute when the vehicle immediately behind the Google AV rolled forward and collided with the Google AV. The speed of the other vehicle at the time of the collision was approximately 3 mph. The Google AV sustained a minor scrape on its rear bumper. There was no visible damage to the other vehicle.