Over the past year or so, Google has been fine-tuning how the software running its fleet of automated vehicles handles the complexities of stop-and-go driving in heavily populated areas.
Engineers have improved the cars’ software to recognize situations like pedestrian traffic, buses, stop signs held by crossing guards and hand signals made by cyclists.
A self-driving vehicle can pay attention to all of these things in a way that a human physically can’t — and it never gets tired or distracted.
Since 2011, when self-driving vehicles became street-legal in Nevada, Google has logged nearly 700,000 miles with the cars, mostly on highways. The only reported accidents have happened when one of the cars was being driven by a person, or they were the fault of another driver.
Autonomous cars are also now legal in California, Florida and Michigan, although all states still require a human driver behind the wheel.