Google Inc is serious about putting self-driving cars on the road and Google co-founder Sergey Brin confirmed this again at a media event. On Tuesday, Sergey Brin fielded questions at a media demo of Google’s self-driving car prototype in which he hinted at the firm’s commitment to putting computers behind the wheels in the short to medium terms. He says that the firm is almost at the point of bringing its self-driving cars to the public.
Google has a penchant for burning money on so-called “Moonlight” projects that may never see the light of day, but Sergey says the self-driving car is a priority. In his words, “We look for big important problems that can be served by technology, and transportation is a big challenge of our time”. He goes on to say, “Traffic has a cost on society and individuals. We saw a real opportunity to use tech to address this one. It’s coming along well, and I hope we can have this meeting in a few years when we will have made a small dent in this issue.”
Making self-driving cars public
The testing of Google’s driverless cars in California and Texas has been ongoing for the last two years and Google thinks it is high time it made the cars public. Google has a fleet of 25 two-seater prototypes running on public roads in California and 23 self-driving Lexus RX450h SUVs operating in the city of Austin. The cars have logged more than 1.2 million miles in the tests.
However, Google with its strong financial muscle and deep pockets with a market cap of about $430B says it can’t go it alone because of the large scale it has in mind for its driverless cars. Sergey was quoted saying, “It may sound weird, but I find us actually challenged for resources considering the things we hope to accomplish.”
Sergey was being honest about Google’s ability to take self-driving cars public. Building a car from scratch is more complex than building the Android OS, a Nexus, or Chromecast. The firm says it will be working with established carmakers to take its self-driving cars public. Sergey was quoted saying, “To bring this project to scale, we will need to partner with top tier OEMs.”
Google Won’t Partner with Tesla
Many people in the tech space have come to expect Google to partner with Tesla Motors Inc to bring self-driving cars to the road. For one, Tesla Motors is building green cars (EV) straight from the ground up, and it is working on giving its cars some self-driving features. Hence, Google and Tesla can easily work out an arrangement between Google’s car company and Tesla’s EVs – a clear win-win situation for both firms.
However, it doesn’t appear that Google will be working with Tesla Motors because both firms have different views on the self-driving future of cars. Google wants cars to be fully autonomous before taking them public but Tesla believes that gradual improvements in driver-assisted systems will lead to self-driving cars. No wonder, Google is insisting that it would “need to partner with top tier OEMs” who won’t argue with its technology.