Google reportedly shelves plans for its own self-driving car, instead to focus on integration
Google has apparently stopped working on its plan to develop its own completely autonomous cars, a report has claimed. According to The Information, the subdivision of Google's parent company, Alphabet, involved in developing self-driving cars has "scaled back" its ambitions.
The publication reports, from a number of anonymous sources, that Google has "backed off" its attempts to create a vehicle with no steering wheel or pedals in favour of making partnerships with existing vehicle manufacturers.
Google announced its first deal with a vehicle producer in May. Working with Fiat-Chrysler, the company is building 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans. The car manufacturer is said to be providing the vans and Google would add its autonomous software with the aim of getting the vehicles on the road before the end of 2016. At the time, Google said the partnership would be "the first time we’ve worked directly with an automaker to create our vehicles".
A further move from the company to work closely with existing manufacturers would follow a similar trend across the self-driving industry. In November, Ford announced its self-driving cars would use BlackBerry technology; General Motors purchased software company Cruise Automation in March; and Hertz has signed a dealwith Uber in May. Uber has also worked with Volvo on its own autonomous vehicles.
The existence of the Google and Fiat-Chrysler deal also marries with The Information's report that suggests Google wants to introduce an autonomous taxi service by the end of 2017. Google also owns ride-sharing app Waze.
Since Google's autonomous vehicles were first publicly announced, they have been tested on public roads in the US. In October, Dmitri Dolgov, the head of Google's self-driving technology, announced its vehicles have collectively driven more than two million miles – the equivalent of 300 years of human driving experience. "Our team is more confident than ever of a fully self-driving future," he said. In May 2016 Google created a "self-driving technology development centre" in the US.
The firm is also hosting a press event in California today on its work with self-driving cars so it is likely there will be more to come on its efforts very shortly.
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