If top manufacturers and tech industry leaders have their way, self-driving cars will be on the roads in no less than five years.
In an interview with Reuters today, the Director of Google’s Self-Driving Car Project Chris Urmson said that the Silicon Valley giant has partnered up with some of the world’s top auto manufacturers to collaborate on the advancement of autonomous driving, saying that Google would “be remiss” to not work with them, as “they’ve got a lot to offer.”
General Motors Co, Ford Motor co, Toyota Motor Corp, Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG were all listed among the manufacturers that have begun collaborating with Google, which has been pioneering its autonomous driving programs for years in vehicles produced by Roush Performance in Detroit.
One of the major hurdles that automakers face in introducing these cars to market lies in legislation. At this point in time, only four states have legislation allowing autonomous vehicles to be driven on roadways: California, Nevada, Michigan and Florida. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a policy May 30, 2013, regarding automated vehicle development, which addresses the benefits of autonomous vehicles, plans for research into safety issues related to self-driving and recommendations for states that already allow autonomous vehicles on the road.
However, as Urmson said to Reuters, there isn’t much concern about that being a major barrier for long. The NHTSA has been kept abreast of their program’s developments, leading to a greater understanding within the administration of what types of legislation may be required.
“The worst thing we could do is surprise them,” Urmson said in the interview, saying that they have been regularly “briefing the chief U.S. auto regulator ‘from early on in our program.'”
Google is not sure of whether they will venture into producing their own vehicles, or simply act as a systems and software provider to manufacturers, but they do know that this is a revolutionary step for the entire transportation industry.
“You’re really changing the relationship you have with transportation. You’re changing what it means to get around,” he told Reuters, continuing to say that automakers are “doing something incredibly complicated. You look at a car … and people forget just how much magic there is in that thing.”
(Source: Reuters, NHTSA.gov)
(Image Source: Daimler)