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Google’s self-driving cars now in Texas

This week has been a particularly exciting week for Google, as the company has started testing their self-driving car in Austin, Texas. The car in question is a specially equipped Lexus prototype, and with the new change of scenery the company are hoping that with they will learn more about the car’s performance in a different environment and road conditions, and how it reacts.

They have been testing self-driving cars since 2009, but most of the testing was done within Silicon Valley. Outside of Silicon Valley, Mountain View in California has been the primary testing ground, but with the ramping up of testing and Google hope that the self-driving technology should be ready for commercial use by 2020.

Following the path Google has set, most major multinational car manufacturers are starting to develop their own ‘automated vehicles’ that are designed to control functions such as brakes, throttle, and steering. In other words, other carmakers are also developing their own self-driving cars.

Uber is another company that is looking to get into the self-driving business. Their testing vehicles don’t just have a nifty spoiler, but a small pile of gadgetry that includes a rotating device.

According to Biz Journals (opens in new tab), an Uber spokeswoman said that “This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems.”

All Google’s self-driving cars have a human specialist on board to gain manual control of the car if necessary.