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2012-04-26 09:34

'LOOK MA, NO HANDS!' Test driver Steve Mahan is legally blind, but you'd never tell at the wheel of his self-driving Google Prius.

DETROIT, Michigan - Google Inc, best known for its search engine, thinks self-driving cars can be a regular occurrence on US roads in the next few years. It’s in talks with automakers to roll out the technology, the Detroit News reports.

After all, one of their test drivers is legally blind...

Speaking at the SAE World Congress in Detroit, Google project manager Anthony Levandowski told the assembled engineers: "The most important thing computers can do in the next 10 years is drive a car.

"We don't know what it's going to take to show it’s safer than a driver but it's much sooner than the next decade."

SELF-DRIVING FOR ALL


Levandowski, the DetNews reported, said the company could make an announcement as early as 2013 on when it would offer the self-driving technology.

Google's self-driving vehicles are retro-fitted Toyota Priuses with added sensors and cameras that, the company says, on average completes a test course a couple of seconds faster than human drivers. Hoever, the DetNews added Google needed to prove that its self-driving cars were safer than humans.

"We don't want to make cars. That's not our interest," Levandowski said before adding Google could partner with one automaker to offer the technology or it could retrofit a small fleet of vehicles.

Levandowsi told reporters Google ws in talks with “basically every car company” and talking to suppliers to find "partners that want to work with us".

SAFER DRIVING


Automakers "understand it is happening and they want to play a role in that. Not everyone is excited to be first. Some of them are and we want to work with the ones that want to be first".

Google says it has logged more than 400 000km in a fleet of about 10 self-driving cars but wants to expand its test fleet and log at least 1.6-million km before it offers the technology to the public. It doesn't want to eliminate human drivers, just make the roads safer.

The cars will, however, remain semi-autonomous, requiring the driver to steer where certain data is unavailable.


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