Google held meetings with the Department for Transport (DfT) about the future of driverless cars in the UK, according to documents obtained by the Telegraph.
The documents revealed that the California-based tech giant has held a number of meetings with the DfT over the past couple of years about autonomous technology.
Google has been working on autonomous technology for quite some time and it’s already begun testing the technology on roads in the US.
The company announced earlier this year that their vehicles have driven over 1,000,000 miles, “the equivalent of 75 years of typical U.S. adult driving”, and that in the process they had encountered 200,000 stop signs, 600,000 traffic lights, and 180 million other vehicles.
There has been no word on when trials will begin in the UK. However, top Google executives noted that the UK is leading the way in the development of laws for autonomous vehicles.
The information obtained by the Telegraph shows that Google held five meetings with the British government between January 2014 and July 2015.
Sarah Hunter, the head of policy for Google’s experimental division, Google X, said in February, at one of the meeting’s located at Google’s London offices, that the tech giant was “very positive about the non-regulatory approach being taken in the UK places the UK in a good position and could be seen as an example of best practice”.
At Google X’s headquarters in California, Ms Hunter pointed out that the UK “has shown remarkable leadership in this area”.
Michael Hurwitz, the DfT’s head of technology, “emphasised our desire to work with Google to ensure the UK stays ahead.”
Ms Hunter also “noted the development of innovative insurance models as an area for UK leadership and a question Google are interested in”.
DfT is embracing driverless technology
A spokesman for the DfT was quoted by the Telegraph as saying:
“Driverless cars will bring great benefits to our society, the economy and road safety and we are investing millions into research and trials for the motoring of the future,”
“The UK is in a unique position to lead the way for the testing of connected and autonomous vehicles. We are making sure our laws are in step with this fast evolving technology and are working with industry to keep the UK at the forefront of its development.”
How does Google’s self driving technology work?
The car processes map and sensor information to determine where it is – what street it’s on and which lane it’s in. It uses sensors to help detect objects around it.
Software classifies objects based on their size, shape and movement pattern. The software predicts what all the objects around might do next. This allows the car to predict whether a cyclist will ride by or if a pedestrian will cross the street.
The software then chooses a safe speed and trajectory for the car.
According to Google: “We’re working toward vehicles that take you where you want to go at the push of a button. We started by adding components to existing cars like our Lexus SUVs, then began designing a new prototype from the ground up to better explore what should go into a fully self-driving vehicle.
We removed the steering wheel and pedals, and instead designed a prototype that lets the software and sensors handle the driving.”