Google to test self-driving cars in Kirkland

A Google self-driving car is seen in this file photo.

KIRKLAND, Wash. -- Google says it will begin testing its self-driving cars in Kirkland.

The Seattle suburb will become the third city to see the vehicles on its streets. The company has previously tested the self-driving cars in Mountain View, California, where Google is based, and Austin Texas.

"We create very detailed maps before we test anywhere, so the last few months we've been driving Kirkland streets to create those detailed maps," said Jennifer Haroon, the head of business development for Google's Self-Driving Cars Project.

"We create very detailed maps before we test anywhere and so the last few months we've been driving Kirkland streets to create those detailed maps" says Jennifer Haroon, the head of business development for Google's Self-Driving Cars Project.

The company said when the self-driving car begins operations there will be a test driver in the vehicle to take over if needed.

Most major car manufactures have announced they are developing semi-autonomous and fully autonomous cars. Experts expect those cars to be available for sale by 2020.

Google's Lexus is outfitted with radar, lasers and rooftop cone with cameras that feed information to an onboard computer containing Google's proprietary mapping software.

"The radar help us have a 360 degree view at all times, up to two football fields, so that's allot more than you and I can see when driving a car," said Haroon.

Early this week, Google announced it's using 3D software to virtually navigate their car over 3 million miles a day. It's a virtual test before their cars hit the road for real-life testing.

Google says Kirkland is an ideal place to expand it's testing because the terrain and seasonal rain if different than Austin and Mountain View. The goal is for the software to adapt to different environments and road conditions.

And no, Google's car will not be mapping and navigating Microsoft's sprawling Redmond campus just ten minutes away. Google has agreed to stay in the city limits of Kirkland where the mayor has given his permission for the testing.

The company has concluded that human error is the biggest danger in driving, and the company wants to remove the steering wheel and pedals from cars of the future, giving people minimal ability to intervene.

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