The Google self-driving-vehicle fleet has grown by one. According to Wired, the tech giant has added a black Lexus RX450h to its autonomous stable. The hybrid SUV was spotted out on the road for testing wearing a new roof-mounted sensor array that's significantly more streamlined than the gear found on the company's autonomous Toyota Prius models. Google says it is constantly testing its driving algorithms on a wide range of vehicles in order to refine the technology, and that the RX450h is merely the latest step in that process.

Google first began unleashing its driverless cars onto public streets in 2010 using a fleet comprised of six Prius hybrids and one Audi TT. The company's work has spurred the California legislature to draft a bill requiring the California Highway Patrol to outline safety standards for autonomous vehicles. Wired reports the legislation passed the state's Senate Transportation Committee with an 8-0 vote and is now headed to the Senate Rules Committee. Nevada has already passed a similar law.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 12 Comments
      Marco Polo
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Well, if you have to have an SUV, the Lexus RX450h, is a good choice. But why do you need a luxury vehicle if it's driverless?
        DaveMart
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Marco Polo
        This is going to be a joint venture with Toyota, I would have thought, and they may see increased automation as applying first to luxury vehicles. In addition there is plenty of space in it for all the kit and monitoring equipment. In relation to the cost of the test program the base vehicle costs should in any case be low. BMW are using a 5-series for similar testing rather than a more modest vehicle, so it seems great minds think alike.
      Joeviocoe
      • 5 Hours Ago
      http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1251-1300/sb_1298_bill_20120416_amended_sen_v97.pdf
      EZEE
      • 5 Hours Ago
      These are probably closer than you think. They tested one of the new Lincoln's on me of the other sites (not auto blog, seeing as I banned that a while back and deleted the link), and the Lincoln has the lane change avoidance thingy. The car, after a warming, will steer you back into your lane if you are wandering. So the testers simply drove down the road with their hands off the wheel. The funny thing is, after a little while, the car realized what the testers were doing and flashed a message, 'Look d*ck, stop being an a*shole.' (okay, maybe it was a message to remind them to drive safely, but the other sounded better).
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Best news story of the decade.
      Alfonso T. Alvarez
      • 5 Hours Ago
      IOW - Google continues with its lameass attempt to showcase its attempt to make simplistic and inconsequential autonomous vehicles, with not much real world value!
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        Alfonso, your company sounds interesting. Would you mind providing a link to the web site? I'd like to see what other companies are doing in regard to autonomous vehicles. Google has been getting a lot of press on this, but you make it sound as if they are not at all on the leading edge of this technology. That's really surprising, so it would be great to learn more about what's really happening in the field. Thanks!
        DB
        • 5 Hours Ago
        @Alfonso T. Alvarez
        I was at a speech last week by Dr Larry Burns, GM VP of R&D 1998-2009. He discussed the massive return such technology would have on fuel economy, lives saved and reduction in congestion. He also had a warning for the domestic for the domestic automakers, who he said would likely be disrupted by upstarts like Google or by their European and Japanese counterparts, useless they began serious investment in this technology.
          DB
          • 5 Hours Ago
          @DB
          Alfonso, If you did work with Carnegie Mellon then you would know that GM provided almost no technical support to the Carnegie team and that the Urban Challenge was viewed primarily as a marketing tool for GM (I worked with CMU's team on some of their electrical problems when GM wouldn't answer their questions). Continental, on the other hand, did much of the sensor fusion. You would also know that the leader of the CMU, Chris Urmson, is now leading technical development at Google, and the Sebastian Thrun (lead of Stanford's team) and Dr. Larry Burns are also working with Google. Dr. Burns said that GM was nowhere near as far along as Google, and this from the man that lead GM R&D and started GM's autonomous vehicle program. Google is actually very involved in SAE's On-Road Autonomous Vehicle Standards committee, so is Ford and Denso. GM is not involved at all. Also, according to people at NHTSA I have talked with, no has done more to drive the discussion in Washington around autonomous driving. NHTSA Autonomous vehicle safety committee was created at Google's request, not the OEMs. Also when Nevada was having its hearings on their Autonomous driving law, the only companies present were Google and Denso. Actually I know quite well what is going on in agriculture and mining space. I've been to Case New Holland's engineering center outside of Chicago and discussed a project regarding their Autoguide tractors. I have also worked with Caterpillar on a number of autonomous vehicle projects. I have also been in discussion with developers of the autonomous truck programs in Japan and Europe as well as their suppliers.
          Alfonso T. Alvarez
          • 5 Hours Ago
          @DB
          DB - I had meetings with Larry Burns and his colleagues many times while he was with GM. I was asked by GM to have my company participate in the Carnegie Mellon 'Boss' entry in the Darpa challenge, that they won! Also had a ride in the winning vehicle when they brought it to the GM Warren Technical center for a victory luncheon for all of the sponsor companies - the biggest contributors were GM, Caterpillar and Continental. Again, I state my opinion, based upon realistic facts, not 'fanboy' gibberish: Google adds no real value in bringing this technology to the real world! My company has tools that help the OEM's develop this technology, and almost all major OEM's in the automotive, agricultural and off-road vehicles are working on this technology. Yeah, I guess you likely didn't know that agriculture has a huge interest in autonomous vehicles in order to save fuel, reduce the amount of chemicals needed and so on. Same with mining vehicles, etc. EVERY major OEM has already developed vehicles that far exceed Googles lame attempts - Google does not comply with ANY of the requirements needed to bring this technology to market - SAE, ISO, etc. have developed stringent specifications that will make this safe. I understand that most here do not have the technical knowledge required to realize what this entails, but, really, stop being silly and try to learn when those of us who do try to educate you!!
      mchlrus1
      • 5 Hours Ago
      Probably the worst hybrid one could buy. Why couldn't they buy a cheaper Escape Hybrid?
      Joeviocoe
      • 5 Hours Ago
      http://driverlessworld.com/