Google's self-driving cars are coming to Texas, marking the first time the pod-like cars will be tested outside Google's home state of California.
The cars will soon be found in Austin, where Google will begin testing within the next few weeks. The cars will be tested with a driver inside, as well as a steering wheel, which can be used in case of an emergency.
Google first announced that its self-driving car would be coming to Austin in June, but did not mention at the time whether it would be testing the car that it designed, or its modified Lexus SUV. The latest announcement confirms that that Google will be testing its own car, and that the company began testing the Lexus SUV earlier this summer.
Bringing the cars beyond California will allow Google to test different roads, driving situations and traffic patterns. Google also said that it wants to get feedback from those around the country — making it likely that another location will be announced in the near future.
Texas currently doesn't have any legislation that allows the testing of self-driving cars on state roads. However, Google has reportedly been working closely with the governor and the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as the mayor and police chief of Austin. As of now, the only states that have legislation allowing the testing of self-driving cars are Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan.
There have been a number of recent reports suggesting that Google is planning on removing the test driver from its self-driving cars, but Google has said this is not the case — clarifying that the vehicles will not only continue to have a driver, but will also be equipped with a steering wheel, acceleration pedal and brake pedal. In the case of an emergency, the driver can take control of the car, however this does not happen very often.
Indeed, the company has released information about accidents that its cars have been in, revealing that it has encountered just 15 "minor" accidents, which were all the fault of the other driver involved.