Google is pretty serious about making cars, or at least getting deeply involved in the automotive industry. The tech giant is now making its self-driving cars division a separate business unit under corporate parent Alphabet Inc.
As of right now, the plan is to use fleets of self-driving cars in strategic cities, starting with the United States and then branching out to international markets. People would be able to order rides, presumably through an app or a web browser, specifying the starting point and destination as well as a pickup time.
According to a report from Bloomberg, someone on the inside says the service would likely start in Austin and San Francisco, where the autonomous cars have already been tested extensively. Supposedly it would start out in defined and well-controlled areas like military bases and college campuses before being unleashed on the whole cities.
This plan would pit Google against Uber, with Tesla Motors also supposedly weighing if it will deploy a similar service.
Just as interesting is another recent report from Automotive News that Google is exploring a partnership with Ford. Details are sketchy, but it sounds like the Blue Oval could be manufacturing cars for the tech company. If so, that’s a wise move on Google’s part.
Speculation is that the resulting Google vehicle wouldn’t just be a rebadged Ford (in other words it would be nothing like a Lincoln). Instead, the purpose-built car would have specifications from Google, combined with the manufacturing expertise of Ford. And it wouldn’t have an appearance that strangely resembles a cartoon koala.
As Automotive News points out, there are reasons to believe that Ford and Google are working together. Alan Mulally is now on Google’s board, the current Ford CEO has stated in the past he’s interested in working with tech companies, and the so-called Google “bubble car” was made by Roush, which has close ties to the Blue Oval.
This rumored deal would also benefit Ford, which has been working hard to create autonomous drive units of its own. By joining forces with Google, it could accelerate its quest to have commercially-ready level 4 self-driving cars on the road relatively soon.