AUSTIN (KXAN) — Walking around Austin, you may see something surprising — self-driving cars rolling around the roads.
Earlier this year, autonomous vehicle technology company Argo AI launched its driverless operation in Austin. Argo AI public policy and government relations manager Sly Majid said these cars are key to the future of transport.
“Autonomous vehicle technology is incredible,” he said. “The vehicle is doing the dynamic driving tasks; the vehicle is the driver of the car.”
With a fleet of 20 vehicles at its office in Austin, the tech startup is quickly expanding its operations. Partnering with Walmart, a pilot program is underway for autonomous grocery delivery.
Although they’re designed to be driverless, two testing specialists sit in the front seat of each car.
“The car is still doing the driving, it’s still an autonomous vehicle,” Majid said. “We have testing specialists in the vehicle who oversee the car’s operations, making sure that it’s operating and functioning properly.”
Austin Mayor Steve Adler recently rode in one of the cars.
“I was just really surprised at how much the driving of this car autonomously mirrored the way that people drive cars on our streets today,” he said.
A series of sensors gives each autonomous vehicle a 360-degree view of the road.
Argo AI’s mission is to make the streets safer and accessible to all.
“AV technology is incredibly safe,” Majid said. “It doesn’t get distracted; it doesn’t get inebriated.”
“They talk about a day when we don’t need traffic lights anymore,” Adler said. “Because the cars getting to the intersection are talking to one another to be able to avoid one another.”
With this in mind, the future of self-driving cars is speeding ahead faster than we may have ever imagined.
“Autonomous technology is going to be able to create bridges over the gaps that we have in our current transportation system here in Austin,” Majid concluded.
Pretty soon if you order a Lyft in Austin, you may not have a driver. Instead, you could be driven autonomously in one of Argo AI’s vehicles. The company is working with Lyft to bring driverless rideshare services to Austin.