TIME robotics

Watch: Google’s Self-Driving Cars Head to the City

The tech giant's futuristic project is looking to overcome the obstacles of urban driving in Mountain View, Calif. after logging nearly 700,000 miles mostly on freeways

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The Google self-driving car project is training its sights on city streets.

The project’s cars have already logged nearly 700,000 miles, primarily on the freeway around Google’s hometown of Mountain View, Calif. Now, Google is teaching its cars to expertly navigate the streets of Mountain View, overcoming new obstacles like bikers swerving into the lane and crossing guards holding up stop signs, the company said in its first blog update on the project since Aug. 2012.

“A mile of city driving is much more complex than a mile of freeway driving, with hundreds of different objects moving according to different rules of the road in a small area,” Chris Urmson, director of the project, writes in the post.

The Google cars may drive themselves, but a driver still stays in the car to take over if necessary, and Urmson writes that the project is still teaching its cars to perfect the streets of Mountain View before they tackle other towns. Google co-founder Sergey Brin said in 2012 you could “count on one hand the number of years until people, ordinary people, can experience this,” according to the Associated Press.

 

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