The next big thing in automotive will be self-driving cars – make that eco-friendly self-driving cars – and several companies are working on such consumer products. But it’s not traditional carmakers that are at the forefront of this next innovation. Instead, tech firms that have no experience building a car, including Google and Apple, are expected to reshape the car industry. At the same time, the well-established automakers aren’t sitting idly by, with various brands already announcing plans to come out with self-driving and/or electric vehicles. And, naturally, there’s Tesla, a newcomer in the car business that’s already annoying competitors with its inventions, including self-driving features for its all-electric models.
Apple is already rumored to partner up with a yet-to-be-disclosed car maker for its first car, and Google might be doing the same thing. The difference is that Google already has a self-driving car prototype in testing, and has been testing the technology for quite a while and that there’s already a big name interested in Google’s car business: Ford.
According to Reuters, Ford and Google are in talks about a future autonomous vehicle. If finalized, the contract will be announced during CES 2016, the news site explains, with Ford expected to manufacture cars for Google. Bloomberg reported that Google is going to create a new business under the Alphabet umbrella that would handle self-driving car operations – the new company will have a rides-for-hire business model, likely competing with services like Uber, Lyft, and others.
Uber is also a company determined to replace the driver with an autopilot to offer even more affordable cars.
The search giant wants to bring self-driving cars to market by 2020, Reuters adds, with Google having already talked to the “world’s top automakers” earlier this year. The company has assembled a team of suppliers to speed up its autonomous car efforts.
Ford, meanwhile, is playing catch-up to big tech companies when it comes to making smarter cars. The company is, however, ramping up efforts to develop a self-driving car of its own, Reuters said. The carmaker will also expand advanced safety technology such as automatic braking, hands-free operation of vehicles under certain conditions and automating some car functions including steering, braking and throttle.