Google plans to test its self-driving vehicles in Washington later in February, where the people of Kirkland will soon be able to spot the little camera-equipped cars.
After already testing its technology in Austin and Mountain View, Kirkland is about to become the third city in the United States to become home to Google’s autonomous vehicles.
It’s already been six years since the tech company has started carrying out tests of its self-driving cars in Mountain View, California, where it is based. Austin, Texas was added to the list only last summer.
But why Kirkland, Washington? According to Jennifer Haroon, Google’s head of business operations in the self-driving car division, this city was “the natural spot to go.” In addition to the warm welcome from the local government, Google also said the place’s wet, rainy climate offers the company a chance to test the vehicles in other conditions.
Moreover, hilly surroundings allow Google’s engineers to check on the car’s sensors at various angles and elevations. And to top all those reasons, it also helps that the search giant already has an immense campus established in Kirkland.
Over the last couple of weeks, North Kirkland residents might have already spotted a Lexus 4X450h SUV roaming on the streets. The initial tests help the car generate an in depth map of the location, which is useful for gaining a better understanding of the area in the future.
Kirkland officials were more than excited to have Google’s driverless cars tested out on their roads. Amy Walen, Mayor of Kirkland, said that the town “prides itself on being open to new technologies that could help improve our daily lives.”
She added that the local government’s support comes from the fact that having driverless cars could “drastically cut down accident rates,” in addition to the mobility they provide for people who can’t go around easily.
Governor Jay Inslee of Washington also had only commending words about the project: “We’re looking forward to seeing the cars on the road and understanding more about how self-driving cars might someday improve safety and provide traffic relief.”
In the meantime, if you happen to intersect with the vehicle in traffic, Google encourages you to go online and provide feedback about the interaction or just about how well the technology does on the streets.
According to a January report from the U.S. Transportation Department, the vehicle safety regulations might soon receive an update that will help speed up the development of autonomous vehicles.
Image Source: Computer World