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As Scrutiny Rise, General Counsel for its Self Driving Car Project Named by Google


07/12/2016


As Scrutiny Rise, General Counsel for its Self Driving Car Project Named by Google
As the U.S. regulators increase their scrutiny of autonomous vehicles and call for greater proof of safety measures to be shown by auto makers, Alphabet Inc's Google self-driving car project appointed its first general counsel, the company said in a statement.
 
In the states of Texas, California, Arizona and Washington, more than 1.7 million miles (2.7 million km) of autonomous driving has been tested and logged by Google. However publicly, the company has said that it has no timetable for making self-driving vehicles available to the public.
 
However the attention of the US regulators towards safety in self driving vehicles has been drawn by a number of crashes involving the vehicles.
 
After a Google self-driving car struck a municipal bus in California in a minor crash, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said had in March that it was collecting information about the incident even though the agency had not opened a formal probe on the incident.
 
However the death of a Tesla Motors Model S driver in a Florida crash who was operating in "Autopilot" mode on May 7 has drawn a stricter attention of the agency which has announced the initiation of a formal investigation in the accident.
 
Formation of guidelines for such vehicles is being worked upon by the U.S. regulators. The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters last month they might not be released until later this summer even though earlier it had been announced that the new regulations would be made public by July 14.
 
For its self-driving car project, Google named Ken Vosen as the top lawyer. Before his appointment in Google, Ken Vosen worked at The Climate Corporation, an environmental analysis firm and a unit of Monsanto Co as the chief legal officer. He has also served as the counsel at O’Melveny & Myers LLP previously. Recode had earlier reported his hiring by Google.
 
The rumors about Google preparing to make its self-driving car unit a separate company is perhaps signaled by the move, believes many analysts. The program is now part of its X research laboratory unit.

"The self-driving car project is in the middle of graduating from X and this is sort of a gradual process," Astro Teller, who heads the X program, told NBC News in April.
 
To work on partnerships Tim Papandreou has also been hired by Google. Before this appointment, Papandreou had worked at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Office of Innovation previously.
 
Marking the first time a Silicon Valley firm had teamed up with a traditional carmaker to develop an autonomous vehicle, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said they had agreed to work together to build a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans in May.
 
Underscoring the company's determination to move the division past the experimental stage, Google's self-driving car team was expanding and hiring more people with automotive industry expertise Reuters had reported in March.
 
(Source:www.reuters.com)