Today we've seen what might just be the first baby steps towards getting self-driving cars into dealerships and onto the roads. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google was in Detroit today gauging interest in partnering with automobile manufacturers to get self-driving cars out of the labs and into consumers' hands. Let's not get ahead of ourselves — there's nothing to announce yet — but Google is certainly taking what started in 2010 seriously. The company say it's done over 200,000 miles of testing with the system that uses video cameras, radar sensors, and a laser range finder to help determine its position and drive safely alone.
In addition to talking with some auto manufacturers, Google is looking at a few more practical problems that stand in the way of seeing this technology on the road. The company says it still needs to do millions more miles before they're ready to market the product, and it is working with insurance companies to see what would be involved in covering such a vehicle. Additionally, the state of Nevada has already passed regulation in preparation for the autonomous cars. In terms of how Google would offer its system to carmakers, the company is considering partnerships as well as the possibility of offering the technology as an aftermarket upgrade or as a giveaway to help spur usage of other Google products (not unlike Android). We don't know how manufacturers have taken to Google's ideas yet — others like BMW, Audi, and Toyota are already working on their own comparable systems — but we know this man certainly is a fan. Google's lead on the project, Anthony Levandowski, said that the system should be available "much sooner than the next decade" — just enough time for you to start saving up.