Google teams up with Ford for driverless cars

22 Dec 2015

In the latest ‘major step forward for driverless cars’ news, Google is reportedly about to partner with Ford to help speed up the process.

Getting driverless cars to the market is a long, incredibly costly challenge that has so far seen everybody from major tech companies like Apple, Alibaba and, of course, Google take part, alongside Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo.

The obstacles are numerous, including huge amounts of timely testing, dealing with jurisdictional legislation, copious marrying of engineering with technology and mounds and mounds of cash.

Google has been the pioneer in this regard in recent years, with 53 test vehicles spinning around California and Texas at the moment, logging up well over 1m miles of autonomous driving.

Apple, too, is hard at work, but the divide between tech giants and car manufacturers has been clear for a couple of years now.

As Google and Apple fought an Android vs iOS battle to get operating systems into smart dashboards (a feature on cars that will probably, eventually, be superseded by driverless cars), they faced a challenge from the likes of Ford and Mercedes-Benz, who were adamant that they would build their own systems.

A way around this, quite clearly, is partnerships. So, news that Google is partnering with Ford should not be too surprising when looking at the broader scheme of things.

By pairing up, Google reduces significant costs (into the billions of dollars, perhaps) of building its own vehicle production operation. In return, Ford profits from Google’s extensive research. A real win-win situation.

According to Yahoo sources, the deal won’t be exclusive, meaning Google can look at servicing out its software, essentially.

Neither company has confirmed the deal, although an announcement is expected at CES in January.

Ford image via Jorg Hackermann/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic