Perhaps one of the biggest questions in automotive land was exactly how far big tech companies were going to go in on this car thing — and whether Silicon Valley would take over from Detroit as the center of automotive manufacturing.
A new joint venture between Google and Ford announced this week, according to Yahoo Autos, gives us more of a glimpse as to how this might all go down. It looks like Google will work with Ford to make some of those cute little self-driving bubbles.
“Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing,” Yahoo Autos reported.
The companies are expected to officially announce the partnership at CES in January.
It’s considered a huge win for Ford, Yahoo states, as the company will enjoy “a massive boost in self-driving software development,” by working with Google. And Google avoids having to become an auto manufacturer.
Yahoo adds that the deal is “non-exclusive,” and that Google is free to work with several other automakers on self-driving cars as well. The company plans to have self-driving cars on the road by 2020.
One thing that might limit Google’s plans? Last week California’s DMV released a draft of proposed rules for autonomous vehicles for public comment.
The proposal had four major requirements: A licensed driver needed to be in the vehicles; third-party safety testing; a three-year deployment permit that would require manufacturers to report regularly on safety, performance and other issues.
Finally, manufacturers would need to adhere to privacy and cyber-security requirements. Self-driving cars would need to have “self-diagnostic capabilities that detect and respond to cyber-attacks or other unauthorized intrusions, alert the operator, and allow for an operator override,” according to the California DMV.
Google was not happy, with the Self-Driving Car Project’s Chris Urmson writing on Medium that the proposed regulations were a huge roadblock to people who cannot drive, or don’t have a license, which is a target group of potential users for Google’s self-driving cars.
Last week, Bloomberg also reported that Google is moving its self-driving car project to its corporate umbrella Alphabet in 2016, and will be launching a ride-for-hire business, challenging Uber for car services.