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March 10, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 7:20am

Google Chief Eric Schmidt eyes driverless car trials in the UK

News: Company evaluating which city would be the best to start roll outs.

By Joao Lima

Google‘s driverless cars could be leaving US soil for the first time to be tested on the streets of Britain, according to Alphabet’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt said that UK officials have been in conversations with Google to bring its fully autonomous vehicles to a city in Britain.

"One of [Britain’s] leaders suggested we pick a city and start testing there, so we are evaluating these things," Schmidt told The Telegraph.

"We have to get permission from the Government to have these things coexist, we have to go through country by country and state by state in the US, so we are working through that, it takes forever."

Transport bosses in London confirmed last February that the UK government was in talks with Google around the topic of driverless cars.

This followed a report also by The Telegraph that revealed up to five face-to-face meetings had taken place between British authorities and Google to discuss the matter between January 2014 and July 2015.

Sarah Hunter, head of policy at Google X, reportedly said in a meeting: "[Google is] very positive about the non-regulatory approach being taken in the UK [which] places the UK in a good position and could be seen as an example of best practice.

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"The UK "has shown remarkable leadership in this area. The development of innovative insurance models is an area for UK leadership and a question Google are interested in".

Deputy Mayor for Transport Isabel Dedring said the cars will have to work in big cities so "why don’t we start trialling it now", referring to London as the best place to trial the technology.

Google’s driverless cars have covered over 1.4 million miles on US roads, in California, Texas and Washingotn, but never overseas. The first car took to California’s roads in 2009, and the company expects to have the first driverless vehicles available for public use by 2020.

Schmidt spoke out about bringing the cars to the UK at Google’s DeepMind event in Seoul, where its AI software defeated the world champion of board game Go.

He said: "Eventually you will all be in a self driving car in some form or another. It is a combination of technology getting better, but also regulations have to evolve.

"I have not met any people with eyes in the back of their head yet, but self-driving cars have eyes behind them. The car has better vision than you, it can see 360 degrees, and it does not get drunk. So that has to be an improvement."

If deployed, Google’s driverless cars will not, however, be the first sort of vehicles on UK roads. The first national roll out will take place in Greenwich this summer, with Milton Keynes, Bristol and Coventry to follow.

Chancellor George Osborne is also expected to announce in next week’s Budget the government’s involvement in the trialling of a driverless truck fleet on the M6.

You can read all about autonomous and driverless cars on CBR’s exclusive special reports bellow:



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