Google hosted an update on its self-driving car (SDC) project in early October that included ride-alongs in two test mules. Motor Trend podcaster-in-chief Charlie Vogelheim and I ventured to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, for the event, which started with rides and concluded with a presentation by the SDC team. Our first ride was in a modified Lexus RX450h, one of three apparently identical SDCs Google made available for our junket. Google started with Toyota Priuses when it began experimenting with self-driving technologies, and the Lexus SUVs appear to host Google’s latest self-driving hardware and software alongside traditional driver controls, namely a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals. The redundancy is logical enough; when testing autonomous vehicle technology on public roads, it will be wise to have a driver and controls available should something go wrong. Our Lexus came with two co-drivers, one behind the wheel, the other in the front passenger seat, monitoring a laptop, so Charlie and I rode in the second row. Aside from a short but wide-aspect ratio monitor mounted high on the center console (more on that later), there wasn’t much visibly different inside the Lexus, except for a large round, red button… Read full this story
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