Google’s Self-Driving Car Roams, and Maps, the Streets of Austin

Now, this might make Austin, TX, traffic more bearable.

Google said Tuesday that it has been testing its self-driving car in the Texas state capital in recent weeks, the first spins outside the company’s Mountain View, CA, headquarters. (The Lexus RX 450h is not exactly driverless; two Google employees are in the car at all times.)

“It’s now time for us to get experience in places with different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions,” the company said in a statement. “We also want to learn how different communities perceive and interact with self-driving vehicles, and that can vary in different parts of the country.”

The company started the self-driving car project in 2009 and has logged more than a million miles in driverless vehicles so far. In Austin, the Lexus has explored downtown, and a few miles north and northeast, feeding the car details such as lane markers, traffic signals, curb heights and other road information.

“Over the last few days, our software and sensors have started doing the driving,” Google said. “Over time, if this initial testing goes well, we hope to map and drive in more areas of Austin.”

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