The Internet search giant has started testing its driverless prototypes on the streets of Austin, Texas, in a bid to expand its gathering information efforts on the way autonomous cars interact with traffic, road conditions and people.
The company announced on Tuesday that it has decided to deliver a second specially equipped Lexus RX450h prototype this week to Austin. The company has been involved in testing autonomous prototypes since 2009, mainly around its Silicon Valley headquarters in Mountain View, California. Last month, the technology giant also set loose on the streets its first tiny, bubble-shaped self-driving prototype vehicles that were designed internally, on the public roads around its hometown. Google, other technology behemoths and numerous automakers, as well as suppliers have keen on setting 2020 as the date autonomous cars should be ready for commercial prime time.
Google has designed in house its latest batch of prototypes, but said the company will not become a fully fledged automaker and instead use a development and production partner. On the other hand, the global carmakers will also build their own version of the automated vehicles, carefully introducing more and more semi-autonomous systems and features on their new vehicles to allow customers to become accustomed to the new technology. According to a Google press release, the Texas Department of Transportation said “we welcome and support Google’s autonomous vehicle test” in Austin, which has become an emerging technology hub for companies in the southwest United States.