AUSTIN, Texas, July 7 (UPI) -- One of Google's self-driving cars took to the streets of Austin, Texas, Tuesday to test its ability in challenging traffic situations.
The Google Self-Driving Car Project shared the choice of test city on its Google+ page, adding that one of its autonomous Lexus S.U.V.s is driving around the downtown area. The Project said it's important to "get experience testing our software in different driving environments, traffic patterns and road conditions." It added the vehicle will tackle Austin's mix of bicycle taxi drivers, pickup trucks, and "everything in between."
Testing in Austin marks the first time the company has hosted a trial of its cars outside of Mountain View, Calif., the home of their headquarters. A Google representative said Austin's embrace of innovation and the fact that some Google offices are located in the city made it a natural fit for the tests.
Two safety drivers are aboard the cars, ready to helm the vehicle should the need arise. Permission was granted to Google by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Department of Transportation and other local agencies. Neither the public nor the press, however, were made aware of the project before cars started rolling.
Minor accidents involving autonomous cars driving at speeds of less than 10 mph were reported in California in May, leading some experts to question the safety of these self-driving cars. A Google representative said that the autonomous cars were not at fault in these accidents.