Google’s self-driving car project seems to be single-handedly sparking a complete revolution in the auto industry. Concepts like needing a driver’s license and owning a car at all are looking as though they could fly right out the window, given the right testing, innovation and relevant laws. After a crushing defeat in California that may or may not be reversed by the Federal Department of Transportation, Google headed to Austin, Texas, where their automated autos found a much warmer welcome. Testing on test tracks and real roads has already exceeded one million miles, but in order to truly iron the system out and get it ready for consumers, Google is opting for more real-world testing. Most recently, according to their Google+ project page, the robotic road warriors are headed to Kirkland, Washington.
Google has revealed plans to roll out a fleet of self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs to give the varying road conditions and environments of the beautiful city by Lake Washington a go. Brand new driving conditions and traffic patterns will put Google’s self-driving software to the test in ways it hasn’t been tested before, allowing Google to collect new data. If this test is successful, it could indicate the program’s readiness for more new areas with differing terrain and traffic like interstates, big cities and the sometimes strange roads of small towns, but no further announcement has been made at this time.
Not too long ago, Google made a federal filing with the Federal Communications Commission asking for more testing of self-driving cars in four mystery cities. One of the four cities was assumed by many to be Ann Arbor, Michigan due to the presence of the local University’s Mcity test track for self-driving vehicles, but there’s no way to tell for sure. There was also no word on whether Kirkland, Washington is one of the four mystery cities or if the timing of the reveal was purely coincidental. Google’s self-driving cars will presumably continue to encroach more and more territory while waiting for Federal authorities to rule decisively on the legality of their workings, picking up local approvals along the way.