By Joe Bruzek on August 9, 2012
Google’s self-driving car program now makes a lot more sense to us with the addition of an autonomous Lexus RX 450h. If you’re going to only be a passenger, why not do it in luxurious comfort with a 15-speaker premium sound system, dual-screen rear entertainment system and heated/cooled front seats?
The recently added RX 450h hybrid complements the Toyota Prius testers we’ve previously seen wearing Google’s autonomous equipment, which drives the vehicle sans human interaction using video cameras, detailed maps, radar and laser range finder. The RX 450h is being used by Google to refine its technology in various terrains and environments. Google says it still needs mastering in some areas like snow-covered roads, which is where the all-wheel-drive RX 450h will likely be a more appropriate tester than the Prius models.Google’s testing still requires a passenger on board in case driver interaction is required, though there haven’t been any at-fault collisions in the program’s 300,000 logged miles. We bet a few Google engineers are fighting over who logs miles in the RX compared to the Prius testers.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe