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Google Talks to Top Automakers About Making Self-Driving Cars a Reality

Google has been talking with most of the world's top automakers and has assembled a team of traditional and nontraditional suppliers to speed efforts to bring self-driving cars to market by 2020, a Google executive said on Wednesday. "We'd be remiss not to talk to ... the biggest auto manufacturers. They've got a lot to offer," Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, said in an interview with Reuters. Those manufacturers, he said, include General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. Google has not determined whether it will build its own self-driving vehicles or function more as a provider of systems and software to established vehicle manufacturers.

Urmson, in a separate address at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit, said Google expects real people to be using self-driving vehicles on public roads in two to five years. The cars would still be test vehicles, and Google would collect data on how they interact with pedestrians and other vehicles, he said. Urmson wouldn't give a date for putting driverless cars on roads en masse, saying that the system has to be safe enough to work properly.

Google announced in December that it had a fully functioning prototype that's been driving on its test track. The company also confirmed that it has hired Roush Enterprises Inc., a Detroit-area company that designs and builds prototypes for the auto industry, to build 150 prototype Google autonomous cars.

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— Reuters and The Associated Press