Citing a desire not to become a “car maker,” Google has been searching for automotive partners to help implement their self-driving technology. Their goal is to have a self-driving car on the road within the next five years. While they’re waiting for the perfect opportunity to become available, they’ve been working with automotive suppliers to make adjustments and improvements to their original prototype, which was unveiled back in May.
Google has already had a bit of a contentious relationship with authorities in California over their current prototype. Of note, the California DMV would prefer that Google’s car have a steering wheel and pedals. Google envisions these cars as a way for the blind, elderly, or those otherwise unable to drive to get to their destinations safely. In these instances, the driver likely would not be able to control a vehicle even with a steering wheel and pedals. Google hopes to have their next prototype on the road in 2015, so we’ll see how they incorporate California’s demands into their design.
It seems that automakers may have some qualms about working with Google too. At the heart of it all is who will get the most benefit from all of the data gleaned from the users of these vehicles. Also of concern to automakers is how partnering with Google to create a self-driving car will affect their brand. Finally, most automakers want to go at their own pace, researching features and implementing them slowly whereas Google would love nothing more than to rip off the bandage and let their technology truly shine.
I can understand the Fords, Hyundai’s, etc. of the world not wanting one of of their vehicles to be known as the “Google Car,” but at the same time I would imagine that it would be a boon to brand recognition and would probably bring in quite a few customers interested in trying out this new technology. The other items aren’t quite so easy to reconcile. I’m sure Google will have the most to gain from the saved vehicle and travel information, and with the potential investments in the millions of dollars, it may be difficult to make traditionally slow-to-move automakers comfortable with the quick pace that Google would like.
With that being said, the first batch of self-driving cars probably won’t be what most consider “flashy.” These will probably be vehicles that stay under 25 mph, and are largely used for neighborhood driving. Other possibilities could even include an on-demand ride sharing system – similar to Uber, Lyft, etc. – where a car can be summoned via an app.
Who would you like to see partner with Google for the first self-driving car? Let us know in the comments, or on your favorite social network.Source: The Wall Street Journal