Self-driving, autonomous vehicles will be available for "ordinary people" in less than five years and they will be much safer than those driven by humans, says Google CEO Sergey Brin. He was speaking at the press conference for the signing of a new California law designed to accelerate the testing and development of self-driving vehicles. The law creates the legal framework and safety standards for testing and operating autonomous cars. It stipulates that a driver must be present to take control of the vehicle when needed, and that autonomous vehicles can only be used for testing until the state has granted various safety approvals.
"We're stepping on the accelerator when it comes to the Google car," says California state senator Alex Padilla. The Google cars use on-board cameras, lasers, radar, and other sensor technology to monitor road conditions and operate themselves.
Brin notes that self-driving cars will face intense scrutiny before they are allowed on the road, and much work still needs to be done. Safety is "one of the most difficult things that we undertake from a technology point of view, because there are never enough 'nines' in terms of getting things right," he says, using a reliability term from the computer industry.
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