It’s becoming clear that Google was never intent on competing with automakers in putting a self-driving car into the market. Recent news of Google’s talks with numerous car companies and their collaboration with various automotive suppliers suggests that the tech giant’s main interest is participating with automakers to build autonomous vehicles branded under a car company’s badge. Confirming our conclusions, Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project, said this week “We’re definitely not in the business of making cars — just to be 100 percent clear. We’re very excited to push the technology forward.”
The suppliers named by Google include Bosch, ZF Lenksysteme, LG Electronics, Prefix, Continental and Roush, the Michigan-based specialty manufacturer that will likely build the 100 vehicles Google plans to start testing on public roads this year. NVIDIA will supply supercomputing processors as they have with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and other automakers.
After seeing Google’s prototype vehicle, a pod-like car that has no steering wheel or pedals, it became obvious that the company was working more toward a proof of concept and less toward a bona-fide vehicle design statement (although they certainly garnered criticism within automotive industry circles). The new Mercedes-Benz F015 Luxury In Motion concept takes that development idea to a more stylish and futuristic level than Google – and we didn’t hear anyone complain about Mercedes compromising the driving experience.
Google is working hard to establish the first autonomous vehicle platform with hopes of becoming the technology standard across the industry – or at least until new competitive platforms emerge. With a vision of delivering self-driving vehicles within five years, Google will still need to navigate the legal and regulatory hurdles ahead as well as manage consumer sentiment regarding whether self-driving cars are safe.
With a few sectors of the population considered to be naturally attracted to self-driving vehicles, the built-in business opportunities alone are worthy of Google’s allocation of resources. If this collaboration with automakers brings autonomous driving to market quickly (and safely), Google is doing the auto industry and personal transportation a service.
Source: Google in talks with OEMs, suppliers to build self-driving cars – Automotive News