Google's Self-Driving Car Could Be Here by 2020

Jan 14, 2015 04:30 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Google's quirky self-driving prototype could be a production reality as soon as 2020, an executive told Reuters today.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant is in talks with major carmakers and has brought together traditional and nontraditional auto suppliers in a push to get the Google car to the market in the next five years.

Google "would be remiss" not to discuss the car with major automakers including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen, project director Chris Urmson told Reuters.

"For us to jump in and say that we can do this better, that's arrogant," he said.

The report comes on the heels of remarks from GM Chief Technology Officer Jon Lauckner, who said at the auto show in Detroit that GM would "certainly be open to having a discussion with them," referring to Google.

"I'd be completely surprised if Google doesn't have something to offer," Lauckner said. "We know they have talented people and we know they have capability."

Google has also been in conference with national safety regulators "from early on," Urmson said. The company has long been discussing its self-driving fleet with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration since "the worst thing we could do is surprise them," he said.

While Google seems to have a definite timeline for its self-driving offering, plenty about the car is still up in the air. The company hasn't yet decided if it will launch its own self-driving lineup or offer its Android platform and other software systems to automakers for their vehicles, and the bug-like prototype recently unveiled may not even look like the final Google car.

The prototype is "a practical, near-term testing platform" that will develop over time, Urmson said.

"Airliners today don't look like the Wright brothers' flyer," he said. "If you looked at carriages back before we had cars, they looked quite different than cars today."

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