Google has been at the forefront of automated car development for some time now, pushing the envelope for vehicles that can drive themselves all by their lonesome, as well as better mapping and navigation technologies. However, while it might have managed to turn a few Lexus vehicles into self driving cars and has even created some of its own pod car prototypes, there’s only so much it wants to compete with the auto industry. In-reality, it wants to partner up with a company with more experience in the car-making game.
“We don’t particularly want to become a car maker,” Chris Urmson, Director of Google’s self-driving car project said while speaking to The Wall Street Journal. “We are talking with and looking for partners.” It’s not clear at this point which car maker(s) Google wants to work with, or more interestingly perhaps, when it made the decision to begin talking with other car makers. Perhaps it was when Baidu, the Chinese search equivalent of Google, announced that it had teamed up with BMW to develop a piloted car technology moving forward.
Perhaps one of Google’s furture partners will emerge in the upcoming tests of automated vehicles in the UK next year. There are plans for different firms to work with univeristies and tech research labs to develop new piloted vehicle tech as well as run tests on how it works with local drivers, what local pedestrians think of it and how it will affect licensing and insurance issues.
If Google does partner with a full-time automaker however, who it chooses to work with could be very interesting. Volvo is perhaps one of the more obvious choices, since it has pledged to develop a 100 per cent safe vehicle by 2020 that makes it impossible for anyone to become injured or die in or around it. The latest generations of its vehicles already feature laser and radar guided autonomous emergency braking, smart cruise control, lane assistance technology and pedestrian and animal detection.
When finally made available to the public and companies around the world, automated car technology is expected to change our roads forever. Some of the exciting prospects include much more car pooling, automated buses and other public transport services that can be cheaper due to not needing to pay the driver. Convoys on motorways will be possible and commuting will be far more relaxing – especially in queus- because no one will have to worry about their journey. It will be entirely planned out and predictable, because on top of not having to drive yourself, you -or rather the car – will know exactly where every other vehicle is.
Congestion, parking problems and pollution will all be reduced by automated vehicles once they arrive with quality and in large numbers. It will still be a couple of decades before this reality hits, but once it does, we won’t be able to look back without wondering how we ever lived without it.