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

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.

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