Despite all of Tuesday night's excitement, even Sergey Brin was quick to admit that Google's self-driving cars are years away from hitting roads in any significant volume. The company is still feeling out the technology and trying to ascertain how it can take such a thrilling concept — complete with working prototypes — and make it real for people around the world. But automakers are already paying attention to the grand experiment. General Motors is keenly aware of the road Google is trying to go down and the serious competitive threat that Brin's dream represents.
Mark Reuss, GM's product development chief, told reporters yesterday that Google may evolve into a "serious competitive threat" if it continues dedicating time, research, and money to the self-driving project. But he also took a slight jab at the company in the same breath, basically saying that anyone with Google's deep pockets could likely pull off something similar. “Anybody can do anything with enough time and money,” Reuss said. Still, Google's tremendous ambition makes its lofty goals actually seem reachable. Believable. Not many other companies are on that same plane.
“If they set their mind to it, I have no doubt," Reuss said of Google's eventual success. He described the prototype shown off to the world this week as "kind of cool." But like Sergey, GM doesn't believe autonomous vehicles will be cruising down your neighborhood streets soon. “It’s going to be a creep, it’s not going to be a mind-bending thing,” said Reuss.