Google hires top US traffic fed for DRIVERLESS CARS project
'Hm, no spaces. Car, drive around 'til I finish drinking'
Google has signed up the deputy director of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to work on the company's self-driving cars.
Detroit News reported that Ron Medford was moving on from the NHTSA, after working in government roles for more than four decades. He will join the Chocolate Factory as the ad broker's safety director in January next year.
His appointment signals just how keen Google is to get its driverless vehicles on the road. Medford told his workmates at the agency that the move was a "bittersweet" one.
Self-driving cars are Google co-founder Sergey Brin's pet project. His company has been lobbying hard to get Mountain View's driverless vehicles on sale. He has predicted that drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind could all benefit from the cars as soon as five years from now.
Google's current fleet of vehicles has racked up 50,000 miles without humans having to take the wheel. Brin has previously said that the project already had 300,000 miles of automated-driving testing under its belt. ®
"drunks, old people, youngsters and the blind"
The above seemingly already drive around Manchester on a daily basis.
The same thing could be said about you (correctly, this time).
Re: The real obstacle
I see the real benefit here would be for public transport.
Taxis would become cheaper and more reliable.
They might even see of a large proportion of private vehicles in-town.
As a resident of one of Vancouver's suburbs, I have a car but hate to use it in the city since parking and navigating is such a nightmare.
And for all those that think a self-driving car would be infeasibly unsafe, I draw your attention to the fact that most aircraft are, for all intents and purposes, fully automous now, give a more pleasant flight and are infinitely safer that those driven by flesh bags.
The real obstacle
The real obstacle to their takeup will be legal. However reliable they are, in the end they are human-made machines that need to be produced at a marketable cost, therefore there WILL be failures, and those failures WILL lead to damage and/or injury.
So if I own a google-car and it's driving, malfunctions and hits someone/thing, if I would be legally responsible then the insurance premiums would by humungous (at least in the beginning till there's an actuarial understanding of their accident rates). If Google can be held responsible, there will be mucho lawsuits coming their way (and I don't see why not, after all if the brakes fail on any other car the manufacturer can and will be sued).
Either way there will be a huge demand both by owners and by Google themselves (each wanting to cover their own arses) to have black boxes in the car mapping every movement of the vehicle - potentially a privacy nightmare.
The best case I can see for early adoption would be a part-Google owned taxi fleet, as long as they can get teh regulators to give them a green light (and no doubt their new recruit will be able to help them with this given his contacts, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more)
Re: The real obstacle
"It's a potential PR disaster, BUT if they can get v1.0 to be demonstrably safer than people, hopefully they'll be able to avoid knee-jerk panics."
It will be safer than people but the media will beat it up into a frenzy.
"Robocar MURDERS granny!"
"Silly Old Bag Steps Out in Front of Car"
Then the lawyers will come crawling out of the cracks.....