Google Inc. might have turned into Alphabet Inc., but the top dogs at the tech giant have a road map for business success and they’re sticking to it.
Related to this, according to a knowledgeable source that spoke to Bloomberg this week, Google is planning to spin off its self-driving car unit next year as a stand-alone business under the Alphabet umbrella. Moreover, the source notes that new unit is setting up fleets of self-driving cars that will compete with Uber, Lyft and public transportation in various cities around the country.
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Google self-driving cars to compete with Uber and Lyft
It seems like Google / Alphabet have wisely decided to take baby steps in implementing their autonomous car concept. Given that Google’s self-driving cars have already driven more than one million miles on public roads, mainly in the environs of tech hubs San Francisco and Austin, that makes these cities the ideal locales for launching a their ride sharing service. The source noted that the self-driving fleets will include both large and small vehicles, and the most likely place to see them in action (at least at first) in limited, controlled areas such college campuses, military bases or large corporate office developments.
Self-driving cars are at the intersection of the high-tech and automotive sectors, and tens of billions are being pumped into perhaps the hottest and most coveted sector under development today. It was reported earlier this year that Google was working an a concept to compete with Uber, and the rumor has now been confirmed.
Of interest, Uber is working to develop its own autonomous driving capabilities, and a slew of automakers have already deployed semi-autonomous technologies and continue to experiment with “shared mobility.”
Analysts highlight that Google is now providing the the clearest indication to date regarding how it plans to monetize its self-driving automotive technologies. Google declined to comment on the comments from the knowledgeable source.
Several recent poll suggest that only around one third of U.S. consumers might have an interest in purchasing a self-driving cars. According to Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner, the two-thirds that say they are not interested in self-driving vehicles are skittish because they’re worried about losing control.
That makes starting off with “ride for hire” services a good idea as a way to gradually ease self-driving cars into the consumer psyche. “These potential ride-for-hire services could allow consumers to experience the technology and embrace it in a bigger way,” Koslowski points out. “That would help not just Google but the entire industry.”
Google X hired John Krafcik, an auto-industry veteran, as the chief of its cars project just a couple of months ago. Krafcik had been president of TrueCar the online auto-shopping service. He had also worked as a senior sales executive at Hyundai Motor Co., and started off as a truck engineer at Ford Motor Co.
Google claimed it had no immediate plans to make self-driving cars a free-standing business unit in a presser back in September, but management did note the division was “a good candidate to become one at some point in the future.”