Google’s self-driving cars have been tested in their Mountain View home since 2009, but a wider adoption in their hometown has been iced by lawmakers and the local DMV until some ground rules can be drafted up. The DMV was supposed to have already done this by now, but they barely know where to begin with such a new concept. As such, it’s only natural that Google would start to get sick of waiting. As of this summer, they started testing the autonomous automobiles in Austin, Texas. The state capital was more than welcoming, with much less red tape to wade through, allowing for more extensive testing.
The office of Austin’s mayor, Steve Adler, was all too happy to welcome Google into the city with open arms for the project. Adler gave a press conference heavy-laden with Google’s praises and the reason, in spirit, that Austin is being so much more friendly to the project that Mountain View. His office denies that his aides were given speaking notes by Google, saying that instead, they simply share a similar vision. One quote in particular sums up Adler’s views nicely; “Austin is special in part because we welcome new technologies that could help improve our daily lives, and we can easily see the potential self-driving cars have to reduce accident rates and congestion, and to provide mobility for people who can’t get around easily.”
Google’s new vehicles aren’t exempt from the attention of the long arm of the law, of course, not even in Texas. Legislation to roll out some rules for the new robots of the road isn’t set to be able to take place until 2017 if the state decides to undertake it, giving Google some time to use 2016 for a pilot project that will help with more testing, adding more safety data to the cars’ algorithms and testing consumer interest in the vehicles. The self-driving cars are expected to cut down on car accidents as much as 90 percent and save approximately 300,000 lives per decade in the United States alone. The numbers may be a bit off since they’re only estimates based on current data, but it stands to reason that Google’s cars are much better drivers than us, so at the very least, some improvement to the daily gridlock is expected.