Skip to main content

Google’s tiny self-driving pod cars tootle into Texas

google reportedly pursuing manufacturing partner for self driving car
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Those little pod-like self-driving cars that Google’s been testing in California for the last few months are about to tootle into Texas.

It’ll be the diminutive vehicle’s first ride outside of the Golden State as Google continues its quest to create a safe and reliable robo-car.

Residents of Austin have a good chance of spotting the car in the next few weeks, Google told the Wall Street Journal.

To make sure everything goes according to plan and ensure the vehicle doesn’t malfunction or come to any harm, the pod will have a passenger/driver inside keeping an eye on things. And yes, the car does include a steering wheel, so if, for whatever reason, it needs to be taken out of driverless mode, there’ll be no problem getting it to its intended destination.

Google already has experience of testing its driverless tech on the roads of Austin, though on those occasions the kit was fixed to Toyota Prius and Lexus RX hybrids.

The latest development marks the first time for one of Google’s “homemade” pods, which first hit the road in June, to venture outside of its Mountain View neighborhood.

Google says that taking its driverless technology further afield lets it see how the software handles various road conditions and terrain. It also gives people in others parts of the country the chance to drive alongside such vehicles, with Google keen to get feedback on how regular road users feel about the technology.

The company introduced its self-driving pod car to Austin folks at a special event over the weekend. According to a blog post describing the event, interested kids said the car resembles a variety of objects, including “a gumdrop, an owl, a rock with a face on it, an ant, a bug, a moving living room, a computer mouse, a car with top hat… and our personal favorite: ‘the future.'”

There were plenty of questions too, like “does it have windshield wipers?” (yes, though you’ll find them on the car’s all-important sensors), and “does it have an eject button?” (er, no, but that would really be quite something.)

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Is Tesla Full Self-Driving worth it?
A Tesla Model S is seen driving to the left.

While many electric cars offer advanced driver assistance tech these days, most of those boil down to a few different technologies working together -- like lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control. Generally, they work quite well. Together, they can essentially allow a car to drive itself on the highway under the right conditions. But companies are also working on the next generation of self-driving cars, and there's been no company more public about this than Tesla, which offers its Full Self-Driving tech.

But while Tesla Full Self-Driving is available to customers, it's far from free. At the time of this writing, Tesla offered Full Self-Driving through a one-time payment of a hefty $15,000, or as a $200-per-month subscription. Neither of those is cheap, and as such you might be wondering whether or not it's worth the money.

Read more
What’s the difference between Tesla Autopilot and Full Self-Driving?
A Telsa Model 3 drives along a road.

Cars are quickly changing. Companies are increasingly adopting new technologies to roll out fully electric models. At the same time, those companies are investing heavily in the sensors, cameras, and artificial intelligence that will eventually make cars fully self-driving.

Tesla was early to both of those things. Tesla’s entire lineup of cars is electric, and right now, it actually offers two autonomous modes: “Autopilot” and “Full Self-Driving.”

Read more
Apple’s rumored car could cost the same as a Tesla Model S
Apple Car rendering from Vanarama.

Rumors have been swirling around for years regarding Apple’s plans for an electric, self-driving car.

The latest report, which arrived on Tuesday via a usually reliable source, suggests Apple has scaled back its plan for an autonomous car, with some elements yet to be agreed upon.

Read more