Google looks at commercializing self-driving cars

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is talking with automakers about bringing its self-driving technology to market. One issue to be decided is whether Google would design its own vehicle or make its technology available to automakers.

The Wall Street Journal's Alistair Barr quotes Google project director Chris Urmson as saying, “We’re trying to figure that out now.” Umson said he is looking at a six-year timeline for bringing the technology to market—that's when his now ten-year-old son will turn 16 and be eligible to drive California (or apparently eligible to hop in a Google-powered vehicle and refrain from driving).

Barr quotes Bryant Walker Smith, a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Automotive Research, as saying that it can take six years to design and build a new car. Barr also reports that Clare Hughes Johnson, who oversees product and operations for the autonomous-vehicle project, is working on commercialization strategies.

Weather remains a problem for the self-driving vehicles, Barr notes, adding that they haven't been tested in snow.

In any event, designers will quickly need to address the moral issues of autonomous-vehicle crash algorithms, on which I commented yesterday.

The Washington Post has a video of self-driving cars in action.

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