Google to Partner With Ford on Self-Driving Cars Project, Says Report
When it comes to technology’s next big revolution, many are putting their money on self-driving cars. Google in particular has been a pioneer of this, with their vehicles being able to take you anywhere you please with very little input on your part. Not only could a project like that take the stress out of driving, but the company also claims that its autonomous cars could reduce or even eliminate vehicle related fatalities. Given that Google’s driverless cars would never drive while under the influence and they have cameras that offer them a 360-degree view of their surroundings, such a claim is believable. It’s also worth noting that in 1.8 million miles of driving, none of the vehicles have been involved in serious accidents.
Many will be glad to know then, that Google’s self-driving car project is about to enter its next phase of development. According to Automotive News, Google is partnering up with American car maker Ford to make their autonomous cars under contract. Claiming to have spoken to “a source with knowledge of the project”, the publications reports that this deal between Google and Ford is a long time in the making.
However, while a Google spokesperson said that they don’t comment on speculation (though Google officials confirmed that the company is talking to vehicle makers) and a Ford spokesperson said that “keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons and we do not comment on speculation,” there is a lot of evidence to suggest that this deal is indeed in the works. For example, in July of last year, former Ford CEO Alan Mulally joined Google’s board of directors days after he left the automobile company and in September, Google hired John Krafcik (who spent 14 years at Ford; and was chief engineer on the Ford Expedition SUV) as CEO of the Self-Driving Car Project.
Moreover, Yahoo Autos says that they’ve spoken to three sources with the inside scoop on the deal. One of the most interesting things about Yahoo’s report is that it notes that the deal will be “legally separate” from Ford “in part to shield the automaker from liability concerns,” with the publication saying that the responsibility of any potential crashes has been a “major hurdle” for the industry on the path to getting autonomous cars road ready. So for Ford, the fact that Google will take on the legal burden of the project is a big win, but for consumers seeing this, they may ask why they should have faith in the driverless vehicles if the people who make the vehicles aren’t even confident enough to bear the brunt of (any potential) legal challenges.
As for when we may hear an official confirmation of the Google/Ford driverless car partnership, we may end up hearing an announcement about it sooner rather than later. Next month, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016) takes place in Las Vegas and lo and behold, Ford is scheduled to host a press conference in Las Vegas on January 5 so we should look to that for big news about autonomous vehicles.