Google’s autonomous car project is now six years old, and it appears like the search giant wants to move the program into the fast lane. The firm on Sunday announced the first official CEO for the project, auto-world veteran John Krafcik.
Smart choice from Google
Google has made a smart choice by making Krafcik the first CEO of the autonomous car project as he has strong auto sector contacts. Krafcik was working with the consumer-focused pricing site TrueCar until recently as its president. Prior to that, he worked as the CEO of Hyundai’s U.S. operations. Later this month, Krafcik will assume his responsibilities at the Mountain View company. “This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today,” Krafcik said.
The technical chief for Google’s autonomous program will be Chris Urmson, who has been the program’s leader for several years. Urmson will report to Krafcik, who has also worked at Ford in various engineering roles from 1990 to 2004. After securing a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Krafcik began working in the auto industry in 1984. In the beginning of his career, he worked at a former joint-venture plant owned by Toyota and General Motors.
Autonomous car space attracting big names
Google’s automotive efforts have remained in an experimental stage since they began six years ago. It is a part of Google X division, which is also known as the“moon-shot” branch of the company. Google has created a new parent company called Alphabet, and all the ventures of Google X will remain Alphabet companies while a new autonomy is being granted to the other divisions such as the smart device maker Nest. However, one of Google spokespersons did hint that the self-driving car project could be turned into a stand-alone division in the future.
Currently, Google’s autonomous vehicle project is testing cars on public roads in Mountain View and Austin, Texas. The field of autonomous cars is getting increasingly crowded as both automakers and new tech firms are entering the segment. Some of the most well-known names are Uber, the ride-hailing service, and Apple, who is yet to comment on the topic, but has been hiring engineers from the popular electric-car maker Tesla indicating that it might soon make a debut.