Will Google And Ford Build Driverless Cars Together?

Google cars are going to be built Ford tough.

Google and Ford will enter into a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, according to Yahoo Autos, citing sources familiar with the plans. The official announcement is expected to come during the Consumer Electronics Show in January. The companies will also reveal a push toward a new business of automated ridesharing.

The venture is expected to be legally separate from Ford, according to the report. Why? To protect the automaker from liability in case of crashes involving cars in autopilot mode. Ethical questions have arisen regarding who will accept liability for car accidents involving autonomous cars. Google, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have pledged to accept responsibility in order to ease the process of getting the cars on the road.

So why are Google and Ford a great fit for each other?

Software
Google’s self-driving software will give Ford a major advantage over other Detroit-based automakers that opt to develop their own autonomous vehicles. While Ford has been experimenting with its own software, Google already has cars on the streets of Silicon Valley.

Money
Google is set to save billions now that it won’t have to figure out how to build out a manufacturing unit. Google co-founder Sergey Brin indicated earlier this year that the Mountain View-based company was looking for manufacturing partners, according to Business Insider.

Flexibility
The deal is non-exclusive, meaning that Google can enter into partnerships with other automakers, which is good considering Google already has several deals in regards to its autos. The company’s prototype cars were built by Detroit-based engineering and specialty manufacturing company Roush. The company is also working with auto parts suppliers such as Continental AG, Robert Bosch, ZF and LG Electronics. The prototype cars have microprocessors made by Nvidia Corp., the Silicon Valley-based chipmaker that supplies Mercedes-Benz.

Other auto manufacturers that have expressed interest in Google’s efforts include General Motors, Toyota Motor, Daimler AG and Volkswagen, according to Reuters.

Bloomberg reported last week that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, would create a unit for the self-driving car business. Google’s self-driving car project started in 2009 as part of Google

The company eventually aims to compete with Uber and Lyft in the market for car-sharing services.

John Krafcik, former president of online car-shopping service TrueCar, joined Google as CEO of its self-driving car project in September. Krafcik is a 25-year auto industry veteran who rose through the ranks at Ford from 1990 to 2004, where he held various leadership positions including chief engineer for the Expedition and Navigator SUVs.

Source: Silicon Valley Business Journal, Gina Hall
Photo: Google and Ford have agreed to build self-driving cars together. (Google, Inc.)