Google’s self-driving car initiative may not be as far off as many might think. During a talk at the TED conference in Vancouver, Google’s head of self-driving cars Chris Urmson said that his team is working to launch the technology onto the market by 2020 (that year may sound familiar if you’ve followed the Apple Car rumors). The executive said that he has an 11-year-old son that could be eligible to get his license in 4 and a half years, although he hopes that won’t be needed thanks to the availability of self-driving cars. “My team and I are committed to making sure that doesn’t happen,” Urmson said (via Re/Code).
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Urmson went on to express his belief that only self-driving cars can truly reduce the number of accidents on the road. Current available driving safety technology helps drivers be safer in some instances, but not to the extent that autonomous cars will, he claims. One reason for this, according to Google, is that with the current safe driving technology, drivers are prone to take more risks, but if they are not behind the wheel at all, they won’t be able to make those poor decisions.
Google’s current self-driving car prototype is fully autonomous without a steering wheel of any sort. Currently, Google is recording three million miles a day in simulators, while also performing real-world tests. Google’s self-driving team is working to ensure that the car is capable of handling hazardous driving conditions, such as lane closures, bikers, and other distractions. It was revealed earlier this year that Google is also working with auto manufacturers like GM, Ford, Volkswagen and Daimler on the self-driving technology.