In form filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google cofounder Sergey Brin lays out the reasons for the company’s high interest in developing driverless cars.
In the form, Brin, whose official role at the company is now director of Google X, doesn’t reveal much about Google’s specific plans, but he does speak about the origin of its interest in ways he hasn’t before: “The increasing power of computation extends well beyond the internet,” he wrote. “One example close to my heart is our self-driving car project. The goal is to make cars capable of driving themselves entirely without human intervention. We hope to make roadways far safer and transportation far more affordable and accessible to those who can’t drive.”
Of course, the safety level of self-driving cars has been an issue of debate — not just whether the vehicles are safe on the road, but also the vulnerability of the systems to hackers. All of this is of major interest not only to Google, but also to Apple, as the battle for the “connected car” is heating up between the two tech giants.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, also has a keen interest in driverless cars. At an NVidia developer conference earlier this year the controversial entrepreneur theorized that autonomous vehicles would soon be so far along that we would take the technology for granted. He then made the much-publicized remark that in the future, people may even be outlawed from driving cars because “it’s too dangerous. You can’t have a person driving a two-ton death machine.” Musk had to walk back his comment a bit later on using Twitter.
In the 14a form filed today, Brin continues: “We can now rely on immense processing power and advanced sensors that would not have been possible only a few years ago. And while it will still take time before we see self-driving cars everywhere on our streets, over a million auto fatalities per year worldwide make this a risk worth taking … it is possible to create the technology that allows people to lead healthier, happier lives. And, along with our incredibly passionate employees, I am humbled and excited to try.”