Google: Why we are revving up the driverless car

Google: Why we are revving up the driverless car
Cars - beyond sat nav

Google's Larry Page has explained why he feels his company should be pushing forward tech like automated cars and acting as a catalyst to get interesting but tricky projects off the ground.

Of all the projects that Google has worked on, few have attracted as much mainstream media attention as its driverless cars.

Speaking at Google Zeitgeist, company founder and CEO Page suggested that not only are automated cars practical but that they will start out as better than the average driver and improve from there, positing that a software update will make your car safer.


"The automated car stuff is a good example of the possibilities [of technology]," said Page.

"It's an area that I've had some interest in since I was a grad student. It seemed pretty practical actually, I mean you think that driving a car is hard but it is not actually that hard for a computer if [it] has good date about what's about it.

"They will work substantially better than an average person and get better from there, and continue improving.

"You'll get a software update and your car will be safer which is great."


Page believes that a key problem with these potential technologies is that it is expensive to get started, and he believes that Google and major tech prizes can speed the process along.

"The issues we have are that people aren't working on them and you know in fact before the DARPA Grand Challenge there was very few people working in the area," added Page.

"The grand challenge gave it a big contest and got people working on it."

"It should be a great thing to be able to do. There's something like 3 million people killed a year in auto accidents and a lot more that are injured.

"And there's a lot of other benefits you get from the automation too, that people spend two hours a day in the US commuting which is a huge amount of time they don't need to be spending.

"They could be doing useful things in that time or watching TV or looking at ads or whatever."

So why no automated car?

Page explained that there are clear reasons why engineers and scientists had not been plunging their resources into developing the drivereless car - a bastion of science fiction.

"We asked people who were working in that area why don't we have an automated car? "Why can't I buy one?" he explained.

"They said 'We can't actually figure out how to do it. There are regulatory issues and all these other kinds of things'.

"So I think part of our role as a catalyst is to make sure that some of these things actually start up and happen and make sure we push through the difficult issues to make it real."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.