Google in talks with motor giants to bring self-driving cars to market by 2020

15 Jan 2015

A prototype of Google's self driving car

If this is Google’s 2020 vision, it has horsepower. The internet giant is in discussions with Ford, Toyota, Daimler, Volkswagen and General Motors, with a view to bring self-driving cars to market by 2020.

In recent weeks, Google revealed its latest autonomous vehicles with built-in intelligence and sensors that take note of pedestrians likely to cross the street, for example.

In 1,126,500 kilometres (700,000 miles) of test driving on public roads, Google cars have so far avoided causing any accidents. Ironically, the cars themselves have been hit by other vehicles driven by humans.

Detroit’s resurgence could be thanks to Silicon Valley

The head of Google’s self-driving car business Chris Urmson told auto executives in Detroit – the heart of America’s auto industry – that the goal is to have driverless cars available on the market within five years, and that Google would prefer to work with partners rather than go it alone.

Urmson said partnering with auto-makers in Detroit, Michigan, in particular, would be a key goal.

“If you want to do something auto, it’s out here,” Urmson has been quoted as saying in Detroit Free Press.

“To say Silicon Valley is the only place where innovation happens is wrong,” said Urmson. “It is not a crusty Detroit/shiny Silicon Valley. Anyone who thinks that is crazy.”

Google’s current crop of self-driving vehicles were built in Detroit by Roush.

It also looks like Google is building its self-driving car model on the same principle as its Android operating system, by working with as many manufacturers as possible.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years