Google’s self-driving car program has been criticized by car owners who say it will be a drain on their local economy and cause car ownership to skyrocket.
The program, dubbed Project Loon, will see its first public test drive at a Google campus in Mountain View, California, in 2019.
Google, along with automakers such as General Motors Co., BMW AG and Ford Motor Co., have teamed up with the National Autonomous Systems Research Center, or NARS.
Google is hoping that Project Loons testing can help the company and its partners develop the technology to make autonomous vehicles more affordable and widely available.NARS’ goal is to develop an “autonomous transportation system that will be ubiquitous and affordable for everyone,” NARS spokesman Scott Waguespack said in a statement.
The agency plans to award $1.9 billion to NARS to fund research, development and deployment of the system.
Nars is also expected to award a $2.9 million grant to the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the safety risks of Project Lons autonomous driving system, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Google will also use the funds to improve Project Londons software and hardware, according the AP.
According to the AP, the program is “the most ambitious autonomous vehicle project ever conceived by a major corporation.”
The report said that the NARS will be required to spend $1 billion of the $2 billion it receives to build a “faster, more robust” autonomous driving software and technology.NAR officials did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment.