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Long, winding way to go before driverless cars become mainstream

Long, winding way to go before driverless cars become mainstream
Google is testing a driverless car. (AFP / Getty Images)

Driverless cars are poised to become the vehicles of the near future, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to safety, reliability and policy.

That was the takeaway from one of the first sessions at this year's L.A. Auto Show, which saw executives from tech companies and carmakers praising and lamenting the issues surrounding autonomous cars.

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Although the cars have performed well in sunny weather, they still need to prove themselves in hazardous conditions. Sensor ranges need to increase so that the vehicles can perform long-range scanning, and cameras have to be able to detect diverse lane markings and signage. Carmakers need to have serious conversations about what will happen when driverless cars get into accidents.

And even after autonomous cars become mainstream, there are some people who say there will still be a need for competent human drivers.

"You have to consider the driver is the top of the pyramid," said Gary O'Brien, global director of advanced engineering at Delphi Silicon Valley. "People are going to be much better than any algorithm we develop and code into a computer."

Twitter: @byandreachang

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