A new milestone has been reached in the dawning of the self-driving car. On Wednesday, October 5, Google’s autonomous car program hit 2 million miles driven on public roads.
By navigating the city streets in four separate states, the self-driving vehicles are gathering a wide array of data, including how to maneuver through construction zones, respond to bicyclists’ hand signals, and interact with pedestrians.
“There are miles and then there are miles,” said Dmitri Dolgov, the software lead on Google’s car program. “An even better way to think about it is not just in terms of miles or time, rather it’s the number of interactions that you have with the world and richness and complexity of those interactions.”
In just over a year, the program went from 1 million to 2 million miles, and in that time span, the self-driving vehicle industry has changed and expanded dramatically. A number of auto companies have begun development on their own models, including Tesla Motors, General Motors, and Ford Motor Co.
Recently, Uber started to test drive its own autonomous cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, and Apple announced its plans to create its own self-driving car.
Lyft jumped on board as well, with co-founder John Zimmer announcing that “Autonomous vehicle fleets will quickly become widespread and will account for the majority of Lyft rides within five years.”
According to Dolgov, the 2 million miles Google cars have traveled represent a whole 300 years of driving experience. On average, Americans drive their personal cars and trucks about 10,000 miles per year. Google cars are currently hitting about 25,000 miles each week. With so much experience already “under their belts,” it’s no wonder Google’s self-driving cars are already considered to be better drivers than the average human teenager.
Photo attribution: By Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetson derivative work: Mariordo [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons