2013 LA Auto Show Highlights: Experts Talk About The Future of Self-Driving Cars

Nov 20, 2013 04:06 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Self-Driving Car

Google's self-driving car was another step toward autonomous vehicles this past year. (Photo : Wikimedia Commons)

Divided experts spoke out about the future of self-driving cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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Google and the auto industry can't seem to agree on how the autonomous cars will be rolled out or even how to casually operate them, the outlet said.

Auto industry experts believe fully self-driving cars may not make it to the market until 2015, said Jeff Klei, North America president of Continental AG, a German auto parts manufacturing company, at an auto show panel.

Self-driving cars will come in degrees, he said, explaining that partially autonomous cars could be on roads by 2016 but wouldn't do all of the driving yet.

Ron Medford, Google's director of safety for self-driving cars, wouldn't give a straight answer about the future production of autonomous vehicles.

When asked if Google would oppose the gradual introduction of self-driving cars, Medford said vaguely, "Google's a company that has big ambitions" to "have big impacts on what's happening in the world."

Some believe autonomous cars need to have Internet or to be connected to each other to be safe, but Google is working to make sure that self-driving cars can drive on their own using only on-board sensors.

"Google does not believe that we need to have connectivity in order to have full autonomy," Medford said. "We can do it without it."

While self-driving vehicles could be safer than those operated by human drivers, Google and the auto industry agree that consumers should keep their expectations in check.

"Just like any environment, there will be accidents," Klei said.

"People shouldn't think that there will never be a crash," Medford said. "You're going to be much, much better than a human, but you're not going to be absolutely perfect."

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