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Google brings its self-piloting car to Austin for a test drive

Google brings its self-piloting car to Austin for a test drive

Austin Photo Set: News_Google Car_Aleks_Feb 2013
Courtesy of Google Inc.

Google will be testing its self-piloting car in Austin on Tuesday as a part of the three-day Texas Transportation Forum at the Hilton Hotel downtown.

As the Austin American-Statesman first reported, the outfitted, converted Lexus is expected to hit the streets this afternoon with Texas Transportation Commissioner Ted Houghton in the driver seat — but of course, he won’t actually be driving. A product manager from the tech company, Anthony Levandowski, will be on location as well, fittingly as part of a panel on “how technology is reshaping your transportation options.”

The car, which has been undergoing testing for the past few years and has led to some curious test videos, uses a complex system of mounted radars and scanners to map out and detect its surroundings and drive with complete autonomy. It can handle highway travel, obeys traffic laws and can perceive pedestrians at crosswalks.

Its appearance at the panel, in its eighth year, comes after a year of promising legislation for Google, with states including California, Nevada and Florida recently passing laws allowing for the cars to be tested on public streets.

While Google hasn’t made public any plans to take the cars to a commercial market, the company has been vocal about the car's potential future benefits, namely that self-piloting cars could reduce auto accidents, curb traffic congestion and possess better fuel economy.

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