Google Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG), (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is generally ahead of the curve with new technologies and the company’s driverless car program is like no other. According to the director of the program the cars have, so far, been involved in 11 road collisions. None, according to the firm, were the fault of the self-driving program however.
Google defends robotic decisions
Over the last six years in all of their road testing, Google’s autonomous cars have only crashed a single time. Not one of those incidents had the robotic mind driving the car at fault according to Chris Urmson, the director of the Google self-driving car program.
To see a list of high yielding CDs go here.
The executive also revealed that the cars had driven a total of 1.7 million miles so far. Mr. Urmson added that no one was injured in any of the accidents involving the driverless cars. Enhanced safety is one of the major arguments for speeding the adoption of driverless car technology, but there are many regulatory and other issues.
For instance, knowledge of the crashes involving the Google car only become known since September when a California law came into effect forcing the company to report such incidents. Previously the company made no such disclosures. John Simpson director of Consumer Watchdog, wants the DMV to make all incidents public.
Mr. Simpson is especially concerned about the plans to include no manual controls in the cars leaving “no way for a person to take control in an emergency.”
Making money from driverless tech
Despite having no public program to actually sell the technology or do anything with it, Google is hotly developing ways to make driving less of a chore and, really, less of an activity altogether. The company could benefit from widespread autonomous cars in a number of ways. First off, while people are driving they can’t look at ads, and time spent not taking those in is wasted for Google.
Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray said when the program was initially revealed in 2013 that the driverless car business represents a $200 billion revenue opportunity for Google. After years of investment with no market opportunity clearly in sight, the only benefit Google may get from the technology could be, very simply, the indirect benefit of having more people on the internet in general.
Google has had a large amount of trouble getting its in-car entertainment system Android Auto into a single production vehicle. Negotiations with auto manufacturers have been slow and the results promissory. The Mountain View sales team is likely to have even more trouble selling its self-driving tech to the likes of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F).
The autonomous car program has cost Google an unknown amount of money so far, and the company’s investors haven’t made any noise about the resources it’s taking from the company. As the program heads through its sixth year of operation, however, someone is going to look for a revenue stream.
Google faces competition
There is a huge wall of competition facing Google in the autonomous car business. Companies like Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) plan on bringing marginal self-driving capabilities to the roads this year, while others like Uber have been testing their own technology though with seemingly little plan to bring it to market.
Autonomous cars will be almost commonplace by 2025 according to 2014 research from IHS. The research group expects several competing self-driving cars to be on the market by 2020.