Many people in Austin Texas witnessed to have seen some of Google’s self driving Prototype Cars recently, and now we are certain why. The Mountain View-based company revealed some information regarding to this situation. They said that they were in a testing stage of vehicles to see just how well the software works in different situations, environments, road conditions and traffic patterns. Even though Google could test the vehicles in Nevada or anywhere else, Austin is the very first city located outside of Google’s headquarters where it is actually made.
According to Google’s spokesman, the reason they chose Texas is because they love just how well Austin embraces innovation. The spokesman also added that along with Google Fiber and a few other company offices in Austin, it was a logical fit for self-driving cars.
As prior, Google’s self-driving cars are going to have two safety drivers aboard, who will be more than ready to take over control if necessary. The company had to get a permission from the Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, police, the Texas Department of Transportation and other authorities before they engaged with testing the cars.
Google did not notify the press or public about their testing before they began with rolling. That caused many people to wonder if the testing itself was legal. There are experts who question the safety of those vehicles, pointing out that the cars were involved in 11 accidents to say the least since the testing started. In response, Google released the accurate details of all of the accidents mentioned. They said that the accidents were only minor and that the cars did not cause any of them.
Those vehicles are outfitted with sensors and cameras. The car itself creates a detailed map of all the streets trough which it drives, lanes, traffic signals, markers, keep clear zones, curb heights, and other info which helps the driverless car software understand where the vehicle actually is in the world.
According to Google, in recent times, sensors and the software have started doing all the driving after being guided by the driver. However, nowadays two drivers will be present at all times and they will be ready to take the control into their hands if necessary. They will also provide feedback to the company’s engineering team about how the vehicle is behaving in different situations. The safety drivers will make suggestions such as smoother cornering and alike.
The self-driving car project began six years ago, in 2009 when the company mostly tested the tech near their headquarters in Mountain View. Google has taken cars to some other places as well, mostly Washington D.C. However, this time they decided to go with Austin,
Texas and also wanted to learn how people located in different parts of America will interact and perceive the self-driving Prototype Cars.
That’s not all; next week another Google’s SUV will arrive in Texas. If the first test go well, the company has hopes to map and drive more areas of Austin.
Even though the company is backing the tech, some safety concerns were made, and they lead Google to publish a post on their blog regarding the safety record.
The company’s fleet of more than 20 such vehicles and its team of drivers who are in charge for safety, have driven 1.7 million miles (autonomously combined and manually). The millage that the Prototype Cars have driven themselves is estimated on about one million of those miles. At this time, they complete an average of about 10.000 self-driven miles per weeks’ time.
This project is not the only project that Google holds dear. On the beginning of this week, an FCC filing was found which indicates that Google may be back at work on its notorious Glass wearable.
Austin has a very tech-savvy community, and it is no surprise Google has chosen this city for its endeavor. Next week is going to be very hectic and full of anticipation for both Google and citizens of Austin. The new self-driving SUV is on its way and Google has its fingers crossed. If thing go well, the company will map more areas around the city, making it even more tech savvy than it already is.
- Image source: http://wot.motortrend.com/