When Google first announced their self-driving car program there was a mixed bag of reaction. Some could see the very tall hurdles that would need to be overcome and others could see the immense potential. Google went from simply retrofitting existing cars with some of its self-driving technology to actually making a prototype, that was both cute and laughable. Now, it is being reported that Google will abandon its singular effort on a self-driving car to instead focus its efforts alongside industry partners.
Fiat Chrysler is producing a new prototype vehicle for Google based on the Pacifica minivan; if the testing is successful, they’ll reportedly be used in the eventual commercial service. The two companies announced a partnership to develop self-driving minivans in May.
CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat are the ones who made the choice to refocus the self-driving car efforts citing impracticality of the existing program. The choice is said to be controversial within Google X as many were favoring the idea of an entirely Google made vehicle. The move makes sense as there are rumors that Apple is also trying to develop a vehicle in partnership with automakers. While Google has deep pockets, it doesn’t have the automotive knowledge that Fiat Chrysler will bring them in this partnership.
Partnering with Fiat Chrysler also brings a plethora of automotive industry connections both in business and in government. All of these puzzle pieces are critical to a successful program and perhaps this refocusing will indeed pay off for Google and Alphabet. Self-driving cars are still in their infancy as the infrastructure to support such an idea would still have to be put into play. Not only that, but you have to consider the human factor and just how many people truly want to give up driving their own cars.
What do you think of Google’s move? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.Source: The Verge
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