“Driverless cars cant get tired – I can" - Google Automotive head Hugh Dickerson

“Driverless cars can't get tired – I can" - Google Automotive head Hugh Dickerson

Google's head of automotive says society is still at "dawn" in terms of the pace of technological change.

The company with global reach is building 100 self-driving cars that could eventually have no steering wheel or accelerator and brake pedal, noting it would work with "partners" to bring the technology to market.

Addressing hundreds of suppliers and OEMs at this week's Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) Open Forum in the UK, Google Automotive chief, Hugh Dickerson, broadened the autonomous driving debate to include the pace at which technology was evolving.

"[Some] 28% of three to four-year olds use a tablet," he said. "Whether we like it or we don't like it, it [technology] is here to stay and set to accelerate. It took 50 years to reach 50m users for the telephone - it took four years for the internet.

"The consumer has changed for ever as to how they interact - 75% of online shoppers want a personalised shopping experience. Today is the slowest day of technological change for the rest of your life - it is only going to get quicker.

"There are disruptors in the automotive industry - Tesla [for example], but there are disruptors everywhere. Car sharing schemes are expected to grow to cover 26m people by 2020. There are undoubtedly disruptors in the supplier space as well.

"We are at the early stages - it is still dawn. The vast majority of people are not yet connected."

Dickerson urged the supplier and OEM audience to take risks, noting: "UK is a great place for automotive. "If you are going to stay there - heed taking risks - making better use of data - speed up.

"We just want to keep pushing the [automotive] technology and get as many hundreds of thousands of kilometres under the belt as possible. It is moving quickly.

"Driverless cars can't get tired - I can. The US spends more per mile on the cost of accidents than it does on fuel. We would like to make the world a safer place from a driving perspective."

Google has been testing self-driving cars since 2009, incorporating advanced technologies involving sensors, cameras and radar into test vehicles such as Toyota's Prius.

Google has yet to provide details on how its self-driving cars are to be manufactured, only conceding that it will work with partners.

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