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Alphabet chief Eric Schmidt promises driverless cars within 'years, not decades'

Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt has conceded that it is ‘very hard to know’ when self-driving cars will be ready for use by the general public, indicating that the arrival of autonomous vehicles on our streets may still be some distance down the road despite recent progress.

Pressed as to when we might actually be able to go for a spin in one of the much vaunted vehicles, Schmidt said: “It’s very hard to know. The consensus I think within the company is that it’s some years, not decades, but it is very much dependent on regulation. And it also depends on where you are. It’s obviously a great deal easier to do this in areas that, for example, have ample parking.”

Companies working on autonomous vehicles, including Apple and Uber, have long stressed that regulatory rather than technical hurdles remain the biggest single barrier to implementation, but Schmidt’s mention of ‘ample parking’ is a little less clear.

Up until now proponents of autonomous cars have cited their ability to park wherever as one of the chief benefits of the technology.

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