Self-driving cars safer than those driven by humans: Bob Lutz

Reality for driverless cars
Reality for driverless cars

If lawmakers and insurance companies are smart, self-driving cars should hit the road soon because they are actually be safer than those vehicles driven by humans, Bob Lutz, former General Motors vice chairman, told CNBC Monday.

"The autonomous car doesn't drink, doesn't do drugs, doesn't text while driving, doesn't get road rage," Lutz said in an interview with "Street Signs."

"Young, autonomous cars don't want to race other autonomous cars, and they don't go to sleep."

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He anticipates the "occasional" accident but said the crash rate will probably be about 10 percent of human-caused wrecks.

Bob Lutz
Getty Images
Bob Lutz

On Sunday, GM announced it will be offering a car that almost drives itself. The automaker said one of its 2017 Cadillacs will be equipped with a semi-autonomous system for freeways. The system, dubbed "Super Cruise," will use radar and cameras to keep the car in the center lane and a safe distance behind the cars in front of it. It will also bring the car to a complete stop in traffic and can drive in stop-and-go traffic.

Other automakers offer similar systems, but GM said it is the first to announce a system that operates at highway speeds.

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Lutz, who is also a CNBC contributor, said it won't take much more to make the cars fully self-driving.

"In Cadillacs and a lot of other high-end cars, we've got three-quarters of the system operating today. The last thing we need are the automatic steering inputs," he said.

All that essentially requires is an electronic connection and small motor, he added, which is not expensive.

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"It will start on high-end cars but will very quickly migrate down," Lutz said.

Driving without hands
Driving without hands

Google has already announced it expects its self-driving prototype to be rolled out later this year.

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The chief complaint Lutz has heard from those who have tested driverless cars is that it is "boring."

"The autonomous car obeys the speed limit at all times, never drifts out of the lane, never tries to pass another car," he said.

When asked if he would use a self-driving car, Lutz said it would take some getting used to, but "why not?"

—By CNBC's Michelle Fox. The Associated Press contributed to this report.