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Google sees its self-driving cars on the road within five years


google self driving car
To the drive-through!

Self-driving cars have long been the preserve of science fiction, but Google reckons its models will hit the roads in under five years.

At least, that's the goal. Speaking at the North American International Car Show in Detroit, Chris Urmson, the man in charge of Google's self-driving jam jars, dismissed concerns about regulatory issues, saying the onus is on developers to handle safety issues and change public perception.

"We don't think there is a regulatory block," he said, The Wall Street Journal reports. He added the worst thing Google could do was "surprise" the US regulators that it's working with.

This isn't hyperbole. The prototypes are being developed and assembled right now, and will undergo further testing in the spring, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Urmson pointed to the fact that driverless cars are already legal in some states including Nevada, Florida, Washington DC, California and Michigan. He thinks many will follow Georgia's example, and decide they don't need to amend their law to allow autonomous cars.

The cost of the vehicles is another hurdle. Urmson said currently, the radars and lasers required to sense what's around the car cost around $75,000, though that will come down.

Read more: Toyota teams up with Oculus Rift for VR driving lessons

Google isn't going it alone. It's been in talks with the big boys of the motor industry, including General Motors and Fiat Chrysler. It takes a similar approach to its hardware, outsourcing production of its Nexus phones and tablets to manufacturers like LG and HTC.

Nexus car, anyone?

Our very own Milton Keynes is set to get driverless cars this year, though they'll travel a set route rather than ferry you anywhere you want. Still, it's a step closer to the Johnny Cabs of Total Recall.


January 15, 2015, 12:20 pm

To get local government to stamp "safe at my 25 mph in business center" is all that is needed. Use cases for State and Interstate Highways may be banned, but wherever horses are still permitted so can be Google's 'cars'. The business of business.centers is business. Today Wall Street and Market Street are unsafe for business. Moreover, if cities choose to run their taxi industries as coy ponds for pirrannahs, so be it. The price of monitoring 25 mph speed limits will be zilch. A date stamped video of the last half second (prior to collision) can leave a driverless vehicle at 4 inches to impact and be onfile at the DA by two inches (1msec) to impact, sorted in order of criminality relative to as yet unindicted offenses. Furthermore, traditional auto makers can free ride on Google's missionary zeal as it teaches local governments to know what they have and have to improve. Finally, expect local governments to build a better bureaucracy (faster and more complete oversight) for their streets.

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