Google’s Robot Bubble Cars Arrive in Mountain View

Bubble Car
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The future has arrived in the Bay Area city of Mountain View, where Google’s self-driving bubble cars, which drive themselves, are plugging along city streets.

Google acknowledged Thursday morning that the cars had revved up their engines on Wednesday, appearing public for the first time after a year of testing at a former Central Valley military base and other private areas.

On Thursday, Google blogged:

They’re ultimately designed to work without a steering wheel or pedals, but during this phase of our project we’ll have safety drivers aboard with a removable steering wheel, accelerator pedal, and brake pedal that allow them to take over driving if needed. The prototypes’ speed is capped at a neighborhood-friendly 25mph, and they’ll drive using the same software that our existing Lexus vehicles use — the same fleet that has self-driven over 1 million miles since we started the project. As we start to cruise around the neighborhood, we really want to hear what our neighbors think.

Google also asked the public for ideas regarding the artwork on their cars, leaving the competition over the summer open to anyone over 13. As many as 10 people’s artwork will be chosen, according to the blog post, which stated:

As our prototype vehicles start to cruise the streets of Mountain View, California, we want you to make these cars your own and help transform them into public art! Join us in “Paint the Town”, a moving art experiment inviting artists in California to submit art to be featured on our cars, on our website and at an “Open Garage” community event in the fall where up to 10 selected artists will get a ride in the self-driving car.


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