Yahoo Autos claims that during the 2016 Consumer Electronic Show (CES,) Ford will announce that it is partnering with Google in its self-driving car program. The Yahoo Autos report describes the Ford-Google partnership as a step towards “a new business of automated ridesharing.”
The major reason that car makers have long been reluctant to pull the trigger on mass-manufacturing autonomous cars is the liability problems associated with such cars. In order to address this problem, Ford and Google are creating a joint venture that is “legally separate” from both companies. By creating a separate entity, liability is limited in case something terrible happens and the lawsuits roll in.
The report further notes that the agreement between Ford and Google’s technology is non-exclusive, meaning that Google may partner with other automakers if it so chooses.
To date, Google is the leading pioneer of the self-driving car, and has tested its cars over 1.3 million miles. The big missing link for Google is a marketing plan and how it will commercialize its self driving technology. By partnering with Ford, Google may have found an answer.
While Google created and developed its autonomous driving technology, the company has always stated that it has no interest in actually manufacturing the cars. Google builds its own self-driving prototypes, but building cars for sale is expensive and not something Google has much experience in.
In the current prototypes, the cars are configured without a steering wheel or pedals.
Ford has been busy working on its own self-driving automobiles and has shown to the public a few different prototypes. The company also recently announced that it plans to begin publicly testing its autonomous cars in California in 2016. Since the extra equipment required for autonomous cars is extremely expensive, a ridesharing service - described as “Uber without drivers” - is the most cost-efficient system.
It appears that Google and Ford are the perfect fit for each other. The self-driving car division of Google recently hired a CEO. That CEO is John Krafcik, who just happened to work for Ford for 14 years.