Today, Google announced that its new self-driving car prototype is taking to the Austin streets. The vehicles will join the existing fleet of Lexus RX450h SUVs that are already roaming the roads.
Residents have likened to tiny vehicles to “koala cars” and “panda balls” and haven’t been shy about approaching them in the wild, like this Twitter user, who posted a photo of himself posing next to one:
Google’s Self-Driving Car Project has been around for six years now. According to its most recent progress report, dated August 31, there are currently 23 Lexus SUVs currently self-driving on public streets in Mountain View and Austin, and 25 prototypes in existence. Since the start of the project, the cars have driven over 2 million miles on city streets—over half of which was done in autonomous mode, in which Google’s software drove the vehicle.
According to an “Update from Austin,” the number one question it has been getting from the weird city’s population has been about the deer. The G’s response?
“Apparently Austin has a lot of deer, and we’re ready for them! Even at night, the sensors on our vehicle can detect animals like deer, even when they’re on the side of the road. We can detect that they’re different from an inanimate object (like a mailbox) and if the animal appears to be moving into the road, the car will slow down or come to a stop.”
Rest easy, Austin. Koala cars and deer get along just fine.