Google’s self-driving car will make an appearance in Blacksburg next week, as Virginia Tech plans to announce a partnership the school has formed with the technology giant.
Tech hasn’t yet announced exactly how it’s involved in the research, but the car will be at the Virginia Tech Smart Road for a media event on Tuesday afternoon. U.S. Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-6th, and Morgan Griffith, R-9th, will be there and expect to take a test drive, according to a spokeswoman for Goodlatte.
Google has been leading the charge in the development of autonomous vehicle technology since its tricked-out Toyota Prius started making its way around public roads in California in 2010.
It looks like a normal car with a large camera mounted on the roof. The Prius is equipped with laser range finders, radar and cameras to monitor its surroundings and react accordingly. The car knows how to yield to pedestrians and work with other drivers who may not always behave predictably.
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A number of other companies and universities, including Virginia Tech, also have been heavily involved in researching and advancing the capabilities of driverless vehicles.
Fully autonomous cars are a long way from commercial reality, but their potential to reshape society already has technologists giddy. It could mean safer roads, less traffic and even “robo-taxi” services.