Houston: Google's self-driving car prototypes will hit the road in the US this summer after being tried on test tracks, the tech giant has said.
The cars will self-drive but will have safety drivers aboard who can take over the wheel if needed.
Several prototype versions of its self-driving cars are set to hit the streets of Mountain View, California, the search giant's hometown. The move is still just another round of testing but it is a significant step toward a pilot programme, it said.
The announcement follows the revelation by the company that its self-driving cars have been involved in 11 minor traffic accidents in California.
Google has been working on the project of developing self-driving vehicles since 2010.
The new prototype vehicles, assembled by auto supplier Roush Industries in Detroit, use the same software on which its existing self-driving Lexus RX450h sport utility vehicles run.
Engineers will operate 25 such prototype vehicles. It will, in due course, build between 50 and 100 prototypes and will widen testing to sites that are hillier and rainier.
The car has no steering wheel or pedals, so it's up to the computer to do all the driving.
It also said that it will limit the speed of the prototypes to 25 mph (40 kph) to reduce the possibility of severe injury in an accident.
The model comprises everything that is required for fully autonomous driving and also the necessary parts so that engineers can take over driving if need be.
It has an autonomous driving system comprising a computer and sensors to typical car parts like brakes pedals, lights, removable accelerator pedals and steering wheels, unlike the rudimentary version it released in May last year.
That model was a tiny two-seater, which did not have typical features of a car such as a steering wheel, headlights or brakes and was to be completely operated by the vehicle's computer.
Along with this Google also announced its plans to launch a website that will help keep informing the public about forthcoming test drives, including regular updates on progress and incidents.
Tech giants are trying to make a footprint in the automotive industry because they predict a giant transportation revolution that will change how people operate cars.