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Google Opens Up First Journalist Ride of Koala Cars, Hopes for Delivery in Next Four Years

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On September 29th, Google finally reached a milestone in its automated car program: letting journalists ride around in the adorable “Koala Cars.” According to USA Today, the demo included a five-minute loop that included real-world obstacles like a car, a pedestrian, and a veering bicyclist.

As a part of the demonstration, Google announced that it is serious about getting the autonomous Koala cars out to the public within the next four years—it has been subjecting its autonomous car to extensive environmental tests just like other automakers, like exposing the car to extreme heat, extreme cold, snow, rain, etc.

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To underline this seriousness, elusive co-founder of Google Sergey Brin made a brief appearance at the event, commenting that he is happy with the group’s progress.

And, as always, safety was underlined as a main concern for the introduction of the autonomous car. Technical leader Chris Urmson has said in the past that he wants to have autonomous cars out before his son gets of age to apply for a California driver’s license, and he underlined the lack of safety on the roads.

“Today, 1.2 million are killed worldwide each year, 33,000 of them in the U.S. I have a hard time with that number,” Urmson said. “That’s the equivalent of five Boeing jets crashing every week, which to the airline industry would be completely unacceptable.”

Bottom line, according to USA Today, was that riding in the Google Koala car is uneventful. Based on Urmson’s comments, we suppose that’s more or less the whole point.

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News Source: USA Today