Google’s self-driving car project first came to Austin, Texas in July of last year, marking its first expansion outside of Google’s hometown of Mountain View, California. It was a logical next step, considering Austin’s forward-thinking political culture and unique environmental challenges (“pedicabs, pickup trucks, and everything in between,” Google said). Now, it appears—thanks to some recently-published FCC documents (via Mark Harris)—that Google has plans to bring the self-driving car program to four more mysterious cities…
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“Authority is needed for continued nationwide testing of transmitters operating in the 76.0-77.0 GHz (76 GHz) band,” the documents say, going on to list the locations that Google is seeking approval to use the band. Besides Mountain View, California, and Austin, TX, (both with a radius of 40 miles from the company’s headquarters in each city), there are four more redacted locations. Presumably, Ann Arbor, Michigan could be one of the four new cities, considering it’s the city where a large self-driving car test track opened last year. The Google Careers site lists a Self-Driving Car Project Manager opportunity in the area, and it would also conveniently fit above Austin in this list, assuming it’s alphabetical.
The renewal of Google’s approval for the 76 GHz band is requested to take effect March 1, 2016, according to the documents, but it’s unclear when exactly Google will start testing the cars in these locations (although we can assume it will be after that date).
The Obama administration proposed a $4 billion spend a couple of weeks ago to tackle the legal barriers associated with the rollout of self-driving cars, and more recently Daimler’s CEO was surprised by Google’s car effort and progress after a visit to Silicon Valley. It’s clear that Google is aggressively moving the project forward, and with four new cities comes an unthinkable number of new challenges. Seeing that the cars are already scheduled to land in four more cities is a testament to Google’s progress, though, and at this rate it probably won’t be long—relatively speaking—before you start seeing the cars somewhere near you.