Five big tests that driverless cars will have to pass

Google unveils first 'fully functional' driverless car. The internet giant posted a picture online of the white, bubble-shaped car, the most complete self-driving vehicle it has yet put together

Self-driving cars developed by Google and others are likely to be technically superior before long, but their road to the mainstream will not be simple. 

It would be easy to believe that robot cars are powering inevitably onto our roads. Google’s self-driving vehicles have totted up more than 1.2 million miles – 90 years worth of driving experience – on California’s streets since 2009. Various countries and US states are bending over backwards to accommodate driverless car research. And the car industry is putting billions of pounds into research in an attempt to keep up with Silicon Valley’s deep-pocketed entrants.

This optimism is well grounded. Driverless cars promise enormous benefits: a revolution in productivity, a near-zero level of road fatalities, faster travel and a seismic improvement in energy efficiency.

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