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Google's Sergey Brin: You'll ride in robot cars within 5 years

Ordinary folks will have access to self-driving cars in the next few years, the Google cofounder said at a California bill signing today.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
Screenshot by Charles Cooper/CNET

If you're excited about the day when your car drives itself, you may not have too wait long.

Google cofounder Sergey Brin said Google will have autonomous cars available for the general public within five years.

"You can count on one hand the number of years it will take before ordinary people can experience this," he said at the signing of SB 1298, which establishes safety and performance standards for cars operated by computers on California roads and highways.

The new law, which puts California in line with Nevada and Florida -- two states that have had similar laws in place -- will allow a licensed driver to test the car. The bill had some opposition early on, with detractors fearing the bill didn't provide enough oversight to guarantee the safety of truly driverless cars, but more discussion and a revision of the bill let the bill slide through the Legislature.

Google has already put in 300,000 miles of testing with its self-driving cars. Brin said the company will focus on improving sensors and hardware failure support for the technology. He said any obstacles for the technology will be the same as any system that can fail, such is the case with something like airplane flight.

"It's a long list of things that humans have coped with in the past," he said.