BLACKSBURG, Virginia (WSLS) - When Rep. Bob Goodlatte emerged from the back of a "self driven" Lexus as it pulled off of the Virginia Tech Smart Road, he said he was impressed. But then, it was the second time he had ridden in Google's driverless vehicle.
"The first time was in Washington, D.C.. Narrow streets, cars on both sides of the road both directions to see this vehicle pull itself to the side of the road. Speed up to pass. To identify pedestrians and stop for them, traffic lights -- and so on it was a fantastic experience," said Goodlatte.
The car has been at Virginia Tech for at least a month, and testing is on-going for the next few weeks, as researchers at Tech collaborate with Google on the human side of automated driving.
How much automation do drivers really want? How much can they handle?
"We are looking at usability testing. What the drivers like the vehicle, what they think about the vehicle and what they would like to see in the future," said Myra Blanco, a Virginia Tech researcher.
The Smart Road offers a nice section of safe, closed highway, where Google can push the limits of driverless car technology.