Late last week, Chris Urmson, the leader of Google's self-driving car project, spoke at the Automotive News World Congress. There, according to Automotive News, he stated that the search giant had begun discussions with top-tier auto makers and parts suppliers in order to help bring an autonomous vehicle to market more swiftly.
At the conference, Urmson named some of the collaborators that have helped to bring the company's autonomous vehicle this far. Acknowledged parties include Bosch, which supplied various electrical systems and the car's long-range radar; LG, which was responsible for the car's batteries; ZF Lenksysteme, which supplied the car's steering equipment; Nvidia; and Continental.
These Roush-built models will begin their testing on closed circuits, and will do without a driver-operable steering wheel, brake pedal or accelerator. When the Google car begins on-road testing in California later this year, as per local regulations, manual controls will be added back in and drivers will need to be certified in the operation of self-driving vehicles.
During a discussion session, Urmson said that Google didn't approach a major auto maker to help build the current car, but that it would need to when it wanted to bring an autonomous vehicle to market.
Urmson wouldn't be drawn on when we might see self-driving cars available for purchase, lease or share. He cautioned that cars would only be made available when the technology was "safe and ready". That said, Urmson is hoping that self-driving vehicles will available in time for when his 11-year-old son begins driving, around 2020.