The cars, which were not expected to be available before 2020, could hit the streets earlier than expected.
However, senior associate director for vehicle safety at the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) Dan Smith said the process could be slowed by the government, despite Google’s optimism, as the government needs to come up with a performance standard that is objective and testable for different scenarios.
Those in favour of the autonomous vehicles however continue to maintain the technology would reduce accidents as a result of distracted driving and hence cut highway fatalities and insurance premiums.
Other companies are challenging Google in the autonomous car market, with Toyota having launched its autonomous car at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Fair. Toyota showed off a Lexus research vehicle equipped with gadgets that allow it to detect and respond automatically to its surroundings.The car can move around on its own, including through a fairly complex environment, without a driver touching the steering wheel or pedals.