Google has no intention of becoming a vehicle manufacturer, said managing director of the company for Germany, Austria and Switzerland at the Frankfurt Auto Show on Tuesday. What makes this statement interesting is it follows the announcement of John Krafcik as the CEO of the firm’s self-driving car project.
Google serious about driverless cars
Google’s Philipp Justus said the company is working on cars in partnership with the auto industry, but becoming a manufacturer of the cars has never been its plan. Justus said car manufacturing is something that Google cannot do alone, and noted that automotive suppliers Bosch and zf Friedrichshafen are two of its potential partners.
The search-giant started its driverless cars project in 2009, intending to bring about a revolution in the car industry. After hiring Krafcik, the former CEO of Hyundai Motors America, Google has clearly hinted that it sees this project as a potential and relevant business in the future.
Google’s seriousness may be worrying German carmakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, who are actively hiring more software experts as they sense a threat from tech firms like Google who could beat them in the race to develop a self-driving car.
Moving ahead with its plans
In the meantime, Google is expanding its plans for self-driving cars. The U.S. firm has ramped up the production of its prototype electric self-driving cars, and plans to produce a few hundred units, according to a report in The Guardian. Sarah Hunter, head of policy for Google X, seems very confident about the timing of a wider roll out in California, says the report. “Whenever California passes its operational regulations. We’re just waiting for that,” she said.
Separately, Google’s new patent published Tuesday provides a fascinating insight into how the firm thinks future cars could take control from drivers. Stanford’s Reilly Brennan was the first to spot the description of ‘Google Chauffeur,’ which seems like a straightforward concept. TO engage the self-driving mode, the driver will need to pull an arm on the steering column. The system will then check to see if it’s ready to take control of the vehicle from the driver. If its not, the car will not be able to get a GPS lock. A ‘Not Available’ light could be displayed on the dash for instance. Otherwise, the driver will see a ‘Ready’ light after which he/she can take their hands and feet off the wheel and pedals.