Google has been experimenting with technology that allow cars to be driven without human contact. Granted, the project is on an experimental phase, but it's taking shape and now they're bringing the prototypes to Austin, Texas. Last month, Google released some self-driving vehicles in Austin, those were Lexus SUVs which were the first ones to be adapted with the sensors and all the necessary technology, but this time, the prototypes are the compact cars that were unveiled at the end of last year which are designed from the ground up for that purpose. The reason to try out these cars in more cities and states is to improve the algorithm to more diverse conditions, from the different landscapes and geography to some of the driving habits that are particular to each of the cities.
Texas, unlike some states like California, Nevada, Florida or Michigan doesn't have the necessary legislations to allow self-driving cars to be tested, but Google worked with the authorities to allow the SUVs to be tested this summer, so that made it possible to try out the new compact vehicles. These new cars were showcased on the Thinkery children's museum, where some kids got to ask all sorts of questions. They mentioned all sorts of things and creatures that looked like the car and the company made sure they know that other activities may be done while being in the car as this is one of the benefits.
Mayor Steve Adler communicated that the prototypes will be tested in some areas in downtown Austin, particularly the north and northeast areas where the other SUVs are being tested. None of the cars has had the steering wheel and other components removed, so humans still have some control over them. Google has said that they still don't have a specific timeframe for allowing the cars to be driven without a human driver, but the reports of accidents have been quite favorable. Accidents have not been very common, only 15 have been reported in more than one million miles of autonomous driving, and none of them was the car's fault. Anyway, it's nice to see this initiative moving forward.