After recovering from the recent mishaps with their driverless cars, Google has once again started testing its self-driving car, a white Lexus RX450h fitted with lasers, radars and cameras, but this time in Austin, Texas with a certified safety driver.
The reasons for choosing Austin is very simple – Google has fully equipped infrastructure and multiple offices in Austin and the Mayor of Austin is happy to allow the project in his city, “We welcome the Google self-driving car team for this next phase of their testing and look forward to seeing them around town.” The Texas Department of Transportation has also welcomed the company’s efforts stating, “we welcome and support Google’s autonomous vehicle test.”
Earlier, the test drives were mainly conducted on the roads surrounding Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters. This time however, a change in city will offer a chance to collect new metrics as the car will gather more data and information about how it interacts with the road conditions, traffic and with the people on the road. The safety driver/s on board will remain on standby to assume immediate control in case of an emergency.
Gerardo Interiano, head of Google’s external affairs was excited about the new tests saying, “We’re excited to be testing our technology on the roads of Austin, learning from these experiences from new traffic patterns, from new driving experiences. In every community, drivers, cyclists – they drive in different ways. We want to learn from that.”
The production units are expected to be road-ready by 2020 but Google will team up a development and production partner to put the cars on the road, rather than build them on their own. But even before that, the company will have to create a micro-map of the entire country to feed detailed and minute information to the driverless vehicles.