With Google’s self-driving cars slowed in a gridlock of California regulation, Texas is offering a fast lane.

Officials in Austin have embraced the technology, a welcome so warm that the mayor used talking points written by a Google lobbyist when the tech titan began testing prototypes on their streets over the summer.

That embrace came as state transportation and safety policymakers are struggling with whether they share Google’s vision of – sooner than later – getting the public access to cars that have neither a steering wheel nor pedals.

For now, Google’s test cars have an employee in the driver’s seat, ready to grab the wheel should the onboard sensors and computers get in trouble. Four retrofitted Lexus cars and four bubble-shaped cars Google commissioned are rolling around Austin, the hub of tech innovation in Texas and the first area Google has done extended testing outside its Silicon Valley base.

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