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Google Seeks Partners for Its Self-Driving Car Technology

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Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google's self-driving car technology

Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google's self-driving car technology.

Anthony Levandowski, the project manager for Google’s self-driving car technology, told an audience at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) conference Wednesday that Google seeks partners in the automaking business to bring the car to market sooner than the next decade. David Shepardson, of The Detroit News Washington Bureau, writes: “Search engine giant Google Inc. thinks self-driving cars can be on U.S. roads in the next few years…”

Shepardson goes on to say about Levandowski:

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google could make an announcement as early as next year on when it might offer the self-driving technology, he said.

‘We don’t know what it’s going to take to show its safer than a driver,’ he said, but he predicted: ‘It’s much sooner than the next decade.’

Google has logged more than 250,000 miles in testing a fleet of 10 of its self-driving cars, Shepardson writes, but it wants to log at least one million miles before bringing the technology to market. “We’re probably going to put more miles on this technology than any car that was ever released. They don’t put 5 million miles on cars before they launch them,” Levandowski said.

As this blog has noted in previous posts, a self-driving car could help prevent a large percentage of car accidents that are caused by distracted and drowsy driving, and other human errors.

Levandowski said Google’s options include partnering with automakers, offering aftermarket installations, or even giving self-driving technology away “for free,” as a way to promote use of other Google services, Joseph B. White reports for The Wall Street Journal blog Driver’s Seat. White notes that Levandowski said, “I’m not suggesting we’re going to do that.” Google already has some relationships with automakers who are using Google’s mapping technology, White writes.

Meanwhile, business writer Nathan Bomey writes in Thursday’s Detroit Free Press that in a keynote speech at the SAE conference in Detroit, Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said the agency “views the prospect of self-driving cars as ‘a policy case’ that would be addressed ‘when we actually see that happening.'”

Strickland also said the agency is looking to accelerate various technology initiatives such as crash-warning systems and lane-departure alerts that will make it possible for vehicles to communicate with each other, and thus increase driving safety and eliminate up to 80% of crashes. Vehicle-to-vehicle communication “really has a tremendous amount of promise to save lives,” he said.

In his article, Bomey gives an update on safety initiatives:

  • NHTSA is finalizing a rule to improve rear visibility in passenger vehicles.
  • Thirty-eight states have adopted bans on texting while driving in part because Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has embraced the ‘bully pulpit’ to convince state governments to outlaw the dangerous activity.
  • Engineers at NHTSA are ‘beyond proof of concept’ on a system that would prevent vehicles from being operated by a drunken driver and could ‘be offered as an option on vehicles of the future.’

Image by Society of Automotive Engineers, used under Fair Use: Reporting.


One Response to “Google Seeks Partners for Its Self-Driving Car Technology”


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