Google Auto is the official name of the Internet firm’s car division, claims The Guardian, citing documents obtained under a Public Records Act request in California. Chris Urmson, Google’s lead for Google’s self-driving cars, heads up Google Auto LLC, says the report.
Why is Google Auto needed?
The car division was established as a distinct limited liability company in 2011, and was responsible for the self-driving car experiments by Google with Lexus SUVs, which have become a common sighting on California highways together with the cuter, smaller pod cars which recently entered testing.
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Initially, the Internet firm used the auto division to modify and test the self-driving Lexus SUVs that replaced the company’s first self-driving Prius saloons, says the report. Citing the documents, The Guardian states that Google Auto has been named as the maker of 23 self-driving Lexus vehicles registered with California’s motor department.
With a separate LLC, the parent company is protected from creditors if the project doesn’t conclude well. In addition, The Guardian notes the risk to the overall company is reduced, and it also makes the paperwork with the NHSTA much easier. As of now, there are no signs of the project being scrapped or slowing down. In fact, it seems the internet firm is doubling down on self-driving cars.
A few months back, the company announced that it will be testing the new robocars at its headquarters in Mountain View. Although same the sensors and software are used in both the pod-like vehicles and the self-driving Lexus, the two vehicles are quite different.
No need for a partner now
Urmson, who was appointed as Google Auto’s manager last May, considers self-driving cars as a valuable addition to the society. The most unreliable part of the car is the driver Urmson noted at a recent TED conference.
Google has been claiming it will partner with existing car makers to bring its self-driving cars closer to reality. But since it has Google Auto, it doesn’t actually require another manufacturing partner.
Earlier this year, Urmson announced talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen, but as of now no information has been made available in this regard, reports The Guardian. Google partnering up too soon seems unlikely as the Internet firm is already ahead of its competitors in developing robo-vehicles and the related artificial intelligence software.