Google Wants Self-Drive Cars By 2020

The director of Google has revealed his motivation for ensuring that driverless technology is standard in five years' time.

Chris Urmston told delegates at the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference that his eldest son was due to take his driving test in four and a half years and that his team are "committed to make sure that doesn't happen".

Some automotive firms have opted to introduce driver-assisted functions in cars, in the hope that the technology can gradually win over the many sceptics who have expressed their concerns over fully automated cars.

A prototype from Google, which was revealed back in December, will have no steering wheel or conventional controls; although for early testing extra controls will be fitted.

Chris Urmson said the fact that more and more people are now driving and that traffic is increasing is just one of the reasons to roll out the technology as soon as possible; but most importantly, self-drive cars could drastically reduce road collisions.

He said: "Some 1.2 million people are killed on the roads around the world each year. That number is equivalent to a jet falling out of the sky every day."

He said the incremental changes some car-makers are introducing are not enough.

He added: "That is not to say that driver-assistance cars won't be useful but if we are really going to make changes to our cities, get rid of parking lots, we need self-drive cars."

Google's self-drive cars have undergone extensive testing, being given to one hundred employees in 2013 and racking up more than 700,000 miles on the road.

Some people however are urging caution for the development on automated cars.

Executive director of the Centre for Automotive Research Steven Beikerb said driverless cars may still require human input in extreme circumstances, and that people may forget how to operate their vehicles if they do not do it regularly.

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