Google's pod-like, self-driving cars invade public streets as project shifts into next phase

Industries Associated Press

The latest models of Google's self-driving cars are now cruising the streets near the Internet company's Silicon Valley headquarters in a test of how they work around other vehicles driven by people.

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It's the first time that the pod-like, two-seat vehicles have been allowed on public roads since Google unveiled the next generation of its self-driving fleet more than a year ago.

Google had previously installed its robotic driving technology in Lexus vehicles in the first few years of its ambitious project before developing the smaller prototype. The new models are designed to work without a steering wheel or brake pedal, although the vehicles that began driving Thursday in Mountain View, California, are equipped with these features.

A human will also ride in the cars to take control in emergencies.