Google said Friday in a blog post that its in-house designed self-driving cars, first revealed last May, will officially "leave the test track" and hit the road soon.
These cars won't be completely driverless, though. Google said it's putting a "safety driver" in each one, partly to assuage fears and partly to comply with self-driving car regulations. While the driver won't be actually driving, the human will have access to a steering wheel and pedals that would allow him or her to take control of the vehicle "if needed," the company said.
These cars won't be tricked-out like the Lexus SUVs already on public roads: They're going to be like the smaller smart-car prototype Google revealed last May. Plus, they won't be going all that fast, as the company plans to cap the cars' speed at 25 mph.
The announcement came at the end of a busy week for Google's self-driving car program. The Associated Press reported Monday that the company's self-driving Lexus SUVs -- which use the same software as its homegrown smart cars -- were causing accidents on California streets, possibly at a rate higher than the national average. Google pushed back, saying, "Not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident." According to project head Chris Urmson, the higher rate of accidents is attributable to the fact the company is required to report even minor fender benders, which many humans choose not to officially report.