Google expects public in driverless cars in two to five years

January 14, 2015
In this photo Wednesday, May 14, 2014 file photo, a Google self-driving car is on exhibit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. The head of self-driving cars for Google on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2015 said he expects real people to be using them on public roads in two to five years. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

The head of self-driving cars for Google expects real people to be using them on public roads in two to five years.

Chris Urmson says the cars would still be test vehicles, and Google would collect data on how they interact with other vehicles and pedestrians.

Google is working on sensors to detect road signs and other vehicles, and software that analyzes all the data. The small, bulbous cars without steering wheels or pedals are being tested at a Google facility in California.

Urmson wouldn't give a date for putting driverless cars on roads en masse, saying that the system has to be safe enough to work properly.

He told reporters Wednesday at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that Google doesn't know yet how it will make money on the cars.

Urmson wants to reach the point where his test team no longer has to pilot the cars. "What we really need is to get to the point where we're learning about how people interact with it, how they are using it, and how can we best bring that to market as a product that people care for," he said.

Google may face state regulatory hurdles depending on where it chooses to test the cars in public. Under legislation that Google persuaded California lawmakers to pass in 2012, self-driving cars must have a steering wheel and pedals. Several other states have passed laws formally allowing autonomous cars on public roads without that restriction.

The company in December announced that it had a fully functioning prototype that's been driving on its test track. It hoped to see the cars on the road in northern California this year, but they would have to have safety drivers and temporary manual controls.

Google also confirmed that it has hired Roush Enterprises Inc., a Detroit-area company that designs and builds prototypes for the auto industry, to build 150 prototype Google autonomous cars.

Urmson said Google is making laser and other sensors for the cars smaller and less costly.

He predicted that the cars would fail at some point on public roads, but said Google's cars have been driven more than 700,000 miles on public roads without causing a crash.

Explore further: Google to build prototype of truly driverless car (Update 2) (w/ Video)

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7 comments

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indio007
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 14, 2015
The STATE pigs are scared the trough of revenue related to automobiles will disappear. They will do anything to maintain the status quo. Automobile laws have NEVER been about safety.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (4) Jan 14, 2015
Automobile laws have NEVER been about safety.
That's a bit harsh, isn't it? I don't want drunks with bald tires on the road, or 100 mph speeds through residential areas. Seat belts save lives--I've personally seen a death that would have been avoided with a seat belt, and I've seen cyclists with no head injuries yet with their helmets crushed. Safety glass has prevented countless maimings, anti-skid brakes save lives. You really don't think any of this is about safety?
snoosebaum
not rated yet Jan 14, 2015
Slate had an article expalining how the thing is run off algorithms based on maps so if you change the road ie roadworks etc, the system fails. its all BS
alfie_null
not rated yet Jan 15, 2015
Slate had an article expalining how the thing is run off algorithms based on maps so if you change the road ie roadworks etc, the system fails. its all BS

Yup. For the same reason the GPS map display in your car disintegrates into a puff of smoke the moment you try to deviate from its planned route.

Or maybe your GPS display does something else. Like issue a terse "recalculating" and then proceed to show an alternative route.

Are we to assume those smart guys at Google haven't anticipated of these (and many other) contingencies?
Whydening Gyre
not rated yet Jan 15, 2015
Well, it would definitely put a lot of taxi drivers out o work...
PhyOrgSux
1 / 5 (1) Jan 18, 2015
"Google expects real people to be using them on public roads in two to five years"
but
"the cars would still be test vehicles"

Its actually no news worthy advancement to the current situation.

According to two phys.org articles dated Aug 8th, 2012, the cars had collectively racked up to 300K miles on public roads (certainly NOT without a human inside), while one of them even supposedly took a blind man on errands.

So Google self-driving test vehicles drove around with real people enough to rack up 300K miles already in 2012.

Now of course Google does not really sell much of anything expect adverts so I guess they have a need to announce some kind of news at frequent intervals?
rgw
not rated yet Feb 11, 2015
Yep, sure is BS. Next dese weirdos be sayin' dey got flying machines and instant, world wide, portable phones. Self driving cars, BS! Dat's why we gots horses, dagnabit!

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