Google’s plan for its in-development self-driving car has suddenly become a lot clearer. Today, Bloomberg reports that Google intends to roll out its fleet of autonomous vehicles in the not-too-distant future in conjunction with a ride-hailing app that will allow users to order a robo-car to wherever they are and take an AI-led ride to their destination.
According to the report, Google may have been planning on making this move ever since Google Ventures injected $258 million in investment capital into Uber back in 2013, while Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, David Drummond, has been on the Uber board of directors since that investment. The news hit Uber as a result of Drummond disclosing the information to the rest of the board – and now Uber is considering asking Drummond to resign from his post.
But that isn’t even close to where this story ends. In an effort not to be outdone, TechCrunch reports that Uber has hired over 50 senior scientists from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. You only need one guess to figure out why: Uber wants to build its own fleet of autonomous taxis.
What’s the end-game, here? Well, it seems pretty clear that one company is in a much better position to actually launch a real product here than the other. As innovative as the idea behind Uber may be, in the end, it’s just an app and willing participants. Recent scandals and controversies regarding the actions of Uber’s drivers and the company’s liability in case of other problems have shown that Uber is far from perfecting its formula for making its service actually work appropriately. Google, on the other hand, has been building its robot car for years, and has been working with legislators on working the legal kinks of test driving said car on state roads.
If you’re Google, all you have to do is build an app. If you’re Uber, all you have to do is build a robot car.
Which sounds more feasible?
Goodnight, Uber. It was nice knowing you.