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On the road again: Alphabet’s self-driving car project comes to Kirkland, Washington


Last week we told you that four more mysterious cities are set to get Alphabet’s self-driving cars in the relatively near future, and now the California company has said (via Reuters) that the next city on the list—following Mountain View, CA and Austin, TX— is Kirkland, Washington…

Alphabet Inc said Wednesday its self-driving car project will expand testing to Kirkland, Washington later this month, the third city where it is testing autonomous vehicles.

Alphabet’s reasoning for going to Washington is notably vague, saying that the cars need to experience “different driving environments, traffic patterns, and road conditions.” That’s basically the same exact statement the company provided when it announced the Austin expansion last year.

According to Reuters, Google “began a few weeks ago driving a single Lexus RX450h SUV around a few square miles in North Kirkland to create a detailed map of the streets.” And apparently, Washington Governor Jay Inslee is completely on board with the project.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the cars on the road and understanding more about how self-driving cars might someday improve safety and provide traffic relief,” Inslee said.

Meanwhile, Google’s January self-driving car report revealed that the cars have driven more than 1.4 million miles in autonomous mode. There are currently a total of 22 of the Lexus self-driving cars on the road, as well as 33 of the cuter fully-electric prototype vehicles.

This announcement marks one city off the list, but if recently-filed FCC documents are to be believed, Alphabet is getting ready to bring the cars to at least three more locations. We expect one of those locations to be Ann Arbor, Michigan, the city where a large self-driving car test track opened last year. The Google Careers site also lists a Self-Driving Car Project Manager opportunity in the area,

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.