Google and Ford come together for self-driving cars グーグルとフォード、自動運転車で提携





Google aims to market its first driverless cars by 2020.



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Google and Ford come together for self-driving cars

Even as Tesla, Nissan, Mercedes Benz, and other automakers move closer in their research on self-driving cars, Google and Ford seem to have stolen the march by (reportedly) tying up their mutual technology and car manufacturing experience to produce a driverless car. This partnership could hasten the technology of self-driving cars because many other competitors are now likely to speed up their own programs in that direction. That aside, mass-produced driverless cars on the roads are still few years away from realization.

According to three different sources cited by Yahoo Autos, Google and Ford are working together to build driverless cars. The announcement is likely to be made at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January 2016. Google has already announced that it is shifting its self-driving car project out of Google as a separate entity under the Alphabet umbrella.

While Google leads in self-driving technology, Ford has been trying out its own technology over the past few years. In December, Ford started testing driverless cars on the streets of California. On the other hand, Google already has more than fifty cars in its home city Mountain View and in Austin.

The partnership is expected to be mutually rewarding because both companies depend on each other to fructify a self-driving car with optimum investment. While Google can depend on Ford’s experience of a century in manufacturing cars--and thus avoid investing millions assembling a car--Ford can take advantage of Google’s technology. The joint venture is expected to form a new company that will be separate from Ford. This legal separation is essential to minimize Ford’s liability.

According to reports, the deal will not be exclusive and Google will continue talking to other auto manufacturers like Nissan, Volvo, and Mercedes-Benz, who are also exploring driverless technology.

Google aims to market its first driverless cars by 2020. By then, it hopes to tackle technological, regulatory, and legal issues. Apart from the business angle, there could be a significant social benefit of self-driving technology. According to Google, self-driving cars can eliminate close to 33,000 deaths on U.S. roads every year.

The partnership between Google and Ford could be a cause for concern for rival automakers because it is a clear signal that Google is accelerating its driverless program. The impact of self-driving cars on the auto industry depends on one critical issue: Will the human interface be totally out of the equation? If yes, the disruption in the industry could be epochal. On the other hand, if regulatory or technical requirement necessitates the presence of a human driver on board, the threat to the existing car market will be much less.

Going by Google’s claims, Google and Ford are likely to go all out to bring completely autonomous cars on the roads that can operate without any human involvement. This is a significant departure from the cars being developed by Mercedes, Audi, GM, and Tesla, where humans will be needed as a safety backup.

  While the reported partnership has brought us closer to the era of self-driving cars, there are plenty of hurdles on the way. Apart from regulatory challenges, perhaps the most challenging is to make multiple sensors act in unison to be the veritable eyes and ears of the driverless car. The concept of a driverless or autonomous car on the roads evokes mixed reactions from the laity. While it is undoubtedly an exciting concept that could potentially improve road safety, there is also considerable doubt about its practical aspects. Therefore, lawmakers are being very careful to ensure that the technology comes with several caveats. In California, where Google is operating its driverless test cars for the past six years and has clocked more than a million miles on the roads, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has introduced a set of draft regulations under which driverless cars need to operate. According to the rules, it is mandatory for a driverless car to have a human driver at the wheel, who should be ready to take over the controls in case there is a technical malfunction.

As expected, Google was quick to oppose the move and argued that such regulations would only help decelerate technological innovation and reduce public trust in the driverless car. Thus, there is an inherent dichotomy in the way tech companies and the authorities are operating; while the former are going all out to beat the competition and be the first to bring a driverless car to the customer, the latter is doing all it can to restrain that process to ensure safety standards.




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