Google Auto? Did Google Already Have Plans On Its Own Car Company?

Auto / Tech

An interesting report is coming out of The Guardian today concerning Google and Google Auto LLC. Mark Harris of The Guardian says that even while Google has been courting auto makers for its driverless car, they had already formed their own auto company in advance. This is according to documents obtained by The Guardian under a Public Records Act request in California.

Chris Urmson, head of Google Auto LLC, has been courting manufactures for some time now but has yet to nail down an auto manufacturer partner. Harris thinks this is because Google has never intended to actually form a partnership with any auto manufacturer since they already formed Google Auto. This division of Google is registered with national and international organizations as a passenger vehicle manufacturer, and was licensed last year as a car maker in California adding to Harris’s suspicions. Formed in late 2011 the division was used to modify and test the Lexus vehicles being used for the self-driving car program. Google Auto is named as the manufacturer of all of these Lexus vehicles per their California registrations.

Google announced that it was going to build 100 prototype self-driving cars from scratch, without steering wheels, accelerator or brake pedals.

It was Google Auto LLC that applied for the international vehicle identification number (VIN) codes to identify each new self-driving car, just like any other production vehicle. Google Auto also liaised with America’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and organised emissions testing in California. To avoid onerous safety requirements and crash tests, Google Auto’s cars would be lightweight low speed vehicles (LSVs), capable of a top speed of only 25mph.

Paperwork filed by Google Auto with the NHTSA, and seen by the Guardian, indicates that the cars are rear-wheel drive in design, with each wheel having its own braking system. The cars are powered by a modest 20-30kW electric motor from a lithium ion battery. All the cars built so far have been assembled on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan, by Google’s manufacturing partner, the engineering firm Roush.

If indeed what Harris writes is true and if the documents he has are accurate there could be an interesting twist in the near future for self-driving cars and Google’s role with them. Do you think Google intends on making their self-driving cars on their own? Head over to The Guardian to read Mark Harris’s full article and let us know what you think. Leave a comment here or hit us up on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

  Source: The Guardian
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