Eric Schmidt: Google Self-Driving Cars Should Become The Predominant Mode Of Transport In Our Lifetime

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Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt offered some new insight into Google’s self-driving car program today at his annual press talk at Allen and Co.’s Sun Valley conference.

Schmidt revealed that Google had talked to “all” of the auto-manufacturers globally about the cars, which he called “not yet ready for productization,” facing challenges including getting individual states to approve it (Nevada is the only one currently).

“The current biggest problem is that it runs at the speed limit and nobody drives at the speed limit,” Schmidt said. Apparently Google has prototypes that don’t run at the speed limit however; as Schmidt revealed that Google had a racecourse in an undisclosed location, where the car would race human-driven cars, and win.

Schmidt also went into how exactly the car worked, saying that a consumer will eventually type an address in what he called “Google maps on steroids.” “The deal here is that there’s a person in the driver’s seat, and a really big red button that says “Off.” He said the self-driving car would function much like a plane’s auto pilot, ultimately bolstered by a real human on standby.

When asked if the more technophobic mainstream would easily adopt the novel technology, Schmidt responded, “Depends on how drunk they are.” Schmidt brought up the sad statistic of 35k people killed each year in drunk driving accidents in the United States, and the even sadder fact that that is considered a good statistic because it’s remained constant over two to three decades.

“It’s a terrible tragedy,” Schmidt said, “The sooner we can get cars to drive for us the more lives we can save … self-driving cars should become the predominant mode of transportation in our lifetime.”

Image via: Zack Sheppard