Google talking with auto-makers to manufacture pod cars

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Google might have forged ahead when it comes to driverless vehicles, showing the world what they might look like in the future, but it has reiterated over and over that it isn’t in the business of making cars. It has made some, out of necessity to test its prototype ideas, but it isn’t interested in competing head to head with the companies that have been making cars for decades. And why would it? Chances are it would lose. What it is interested in doing though, is teaming up with established companies to help it produce its idea of the future and that’s why it’s recently been chatting with several companies to figure out how it’s going to work.

This news was announced at the Automotive News World Congress event last week, where head of Google’s automated car development, Chris Urmson, said that the search giant had been in talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagon to help increase the rate with which its fully automated vehicles could be released into the wild.

“We’d be remiss not to talk to the biggest auto manufacturers. They’ve got a lot to offer,” he said (via Dezeen).

“At some point, we’re going to be looking to find partners to build complete vehicles and bring the technology to market,” he explained. “For us to jump in and say that we can do this better, that’s arrogant.”

podcar

As it stands, Google has done a lot of the groundwork when it comes to the sensors being used in the vehicles, allowing them to track potential and actual obstructions, travel at speeds up to 25 miles per hour without intervention on over 700,000 miles of roadway. However they haven’t been shown to be capable of travelling at higher speeds or able to navigate country roads like those found in the UK, or during bad weather like fog and snow.

That’s where the expertise of other auto makers will come in, which have been developing not only vehicles for many years, but also their own automated features.

During the show Urson explained that the manufacturers Google had been speaking with, would allow the search giant to develop new concepts for its automated vehicles and that he expects the final consumer ready version of the Google pod car, to look very different from how it does today.

One of the big changes it will have to make before its cars hit the road though, is adding controls like a steering wheel and pedals. While Google and many others want to see automated vehicles take control all of the time, governments aren’t happy with the idea (and of not having someone to blame if it goes wrong) so they want the controls there so that a person can take control in the case of an accident.

Urmson also said that something Google was looking to do with its connected cars, was add them to a network where all of the vehicles could talk to one another and provide information on the go, thereby updating them all on potential traffic problems or allowing them to travel in convoys to save fuel.

 

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.