Google has hired auto industry veteran and former Hyundai U.S. CEO John Krafcik to run its self-driving car program. Krafcik, 53, is credited with turning around Hyundai's U.S. operations, leading the company to huge sales increases after the Great Recession. Early in his career as a mechanical engineer he worked at a joint venture between Toyota and General Motors where he became a proponent of lean manufacturing. For Google, Krafcik's hiring shows the tech giant is serious about turning autonomous cars into a sustainable business. Google has promised to have a self-driving car in the public's hands by 2020. Krafcik takes over as the autonomous car CEO later this month. Traditional automakers such as Mercedes, General Motors and Toyota are working to gradually automate functions in the car until vehicles become fully capable of driving themselves, possibly by 2025. Google stunned the auto industry in 2010 by announcing that it was straying beyond its primary, Internet search and … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo Auto veteran takes the wheel at Google’s driverless car division
WASHINGTON -- Self-driving cars are expected to usher in a new era of mobility, safety and convenience. The problem, say transportation researchers, is that people will use them too much. Experts foresee robot cars chauffeuring children to school, dance class and baseball practice. The disabled and elderly will have new mobility. Commuters will be able to work, sleep, eat or watch movies on the way to the office. People may stay home more because they can send their cars to do things like pick up groceries they've ordered online. Researchers believe the number of miles driven will skyrocket. It's less certain whether that will mean a corresponding surge in traffic congestion, but it's a clear possibility. Gary Silberg, an auto industry expert at accounting firm KPMG, compares it to the introduction of smartphones. "It will be indispensable to your life," he said. "It will be all sorts of things we can't even think of today." Cars that can drive themselves under limited conditions are … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo What will the future surge in driverless cars mean on the roads?
Fancy cruising in a driverless car? You can now register for the U.K.'s first public trial of autonomous vehicles. If you're in the U.K., you can register with the Gateway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) project and take a ride around London's Greenwich area in a totally automated self-driving electric shuttle. You'll then be invited to share your thoughts on the experience. You can also take part in workshops to discuss the future of automated transport. "The move to automated vehicles is probably the most significant change in transport since the transition from horse-drawn carriages to motorised vehicles," said professor Nick Reed, director at the U.K.'s Transport Research Laboratory and technical lead of the Gateway project. "Testing these vehicles in a living environment, like the U.K. Smart Mobility Living Lab, takes the concept from fiction to reality." The vehicles aren't conventional cars, but look more like train carriages that steer themselves on the road and … [Read more...] about CBS News Logo You can now sign up to take a driverless car for a spin around London
DETROIT - It was the crash the auto industry knew was coming but still feared. The death of a motorist who was using Tesla's (TSLA) semi-autonomous mode could add to the public's apprehension of driverless cars even before they reach the road in big numbers. Most major automakers and technology companies, including Google (GOOG) and Uber, are working on fully autonomous cars, and have worried that a highly publicized crash could hurt those efforts. Joshua D. Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, died in the accident May 7 in Williston, Florida. According to a Tesla statement issued Thursday, the cameras on Brown's Tesla Model S failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn't automatically activate its brakes. Brown didn't take control and activate the brakes either, Tesla said. Brown was an enthusiastic booster of his 2015 Tesla Model S. In an April video he posted online, he credited its sophisticated Autopilot system for avoiding a crash … [Read more...] about This fatality could slam the brakes on driverless cars
NEW YORK -- Uber said on Monday that it plans to buy up to 24,000 self-driving cars from Volvo beginning in less than two years -- and New York's governor wants to bring driverless cars to the Big Apple even sooner. Mix millions of cars, pedestrians, bicyclists and delivery trucks and you get Manhattan driving. At its best, it's unpredictable. At its worst, it's chaos. For today's self-driving cars, that mixture might be too much. "So this cop that's flagging traffic here, right now -- that would confuse the current generation of the self-driving cars?" CBS News transportation correspondent Kris Van Cleave asked. "Yes, we're not there yet because the brain is not advanced to be able to understand what that person is doing," said Brad Stertz, Audi's director of government affairs. CBS News drove the city streets with Stertz, who has been working on autonomous driving technology for over a decade. "So, with the self-driving car, the future of being able to predict that that guy was … [Read more...] about Gov. Cuomo wants to bring driverless cars to New York City