MOUNTAIN VIEW, California — Google is expanding its self-driving car testing program to Kirkland, Washington, saying it wants to "get even more experience in places with different driving environments, traffic patterns and road conditions."
A single self-driving Lexus RX 450h SUV has been deployed to the area to create a detailed map of the streets.
"Now, our car is ready to take over the driving (with a test-driver onboard and able to take over, if needed)," Google said in response to a query from Edmunds. "Over time, if this initial testing goes well, we hope to map and drive in more areas of Kirkland.
The location is described as "an ideal place to expand testing as it has a temperate climate, with seasonal rain for wet weather practice."
"The hills of the city will allow us to test our sensors at different angles and elevations," Google said. "Testing in new cities enables our engineers to further refine our software and adapt to these different environments."
Google's self-driving car project is also operating in Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas, logging over 1.4 million miles of autonomous driving to date.
Separately, President Obama on Thursday proposed a $10 per barrel tax on oil in his fiscal 2017 budget to finance self-driving cars. The fee would be gradually phased in over five years.
"By placing a fee on oil, the President's plan creates a clear incentive for private sector innovation to reduce our reliance on oil and at the same time invests in clean energy technologies that will power our future," the White House said in a statement.
Edmunds says: Self-driving cars are moving ahead on several fronts.