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Google Tests Its Self-Driving Cars In Rainy Weather And Hilly Terrain In Washington

4 February 2016, 7:57 am EST By Dave Calpito Tech Times
Google's self-driving car project has chosen Kirkland, Washington as its next testing destination for its self-driving vehicles. The tests are slated to commence later this month.   ( Justin Sullivan | Getty Images )

Google is geared up to test its house-built self-driving cars in a rainy weather and hilly landscape in Kirkland, Washington later this month. This makes the place the third city in the United States to host the testing for Google's autonomous vehicles, joining Austin and Mountain View.

For six years already, the firm has carried out tests of its robo-cars in Mountain View, California in which it is based. After that, it expanded the testing to Austin, Texas last summer.

Jennifer Haroon head of business operations at Google's self-driving car division said that the key reason why the Mountain View-based company has picked Kirkland is because it is the natural spot to go. Aside from the local government being welcoming, Google said that the place's temperate climate is perfect for testing these vehicles in wet, rainy conditions. On top of that, the city's many hills permit the company's engineers to test sensors at various elevations and angles. Plus, Google has already established a humongous campus in Kirkland.

Throughout the last couple of weeks, a Lexus 4X450h SUV has already begun driving on the streets of North Kirkland in an aim to generate an in depth map of the place so self-driving vehicles will better understand the area down the road.

Officials of Kirkland seem excited about Google's plan to have these driverless cars tested out on their streets.

"Kirkland is a town that prides itself on being open to new technologies that could help improve our daily lives," said Amy Walen, Kirkland's Mayor.

She went on to say that the local government is excited about the potential for these cars to drastically cut down accident rates plus to provide mobility for those who can't go around easily.

Moreover, Governor Jay Inslee of Washington also praised this testing.

"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," said Inslee.

In the meantime, Haroon said that Google is encouraging those who see the vehicle on the road to go online and provide feedback about how well the technology does on the streets.

The U.S. Transportation Department said last month that it may fine-tune its vehicle safety regulations to speed up the development of autonomous vehicles. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in the meantime, also said that the department is going to come up with guidelines for self-driving cars within the next six months.

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