GOOGLE HAS REPORTEDLY ditched its long-standing plan to develop its own driverless vehicles and will likely pursue partnerships with third-party car makers instead.
So says The Information (paywalled), which reports that Google's self-driving car unit, known internally as 'Chauffer', has shifted its efforts towards collaborating with select car manufacturers to develop vehicles with self-driving capabilities, despite its own cars having driven more than two million miles on US cars.
These co-developed vehicles will reportedly feature standard wheel and pedal controls, despite Google's plans to do away with these in its own cars. Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat found that the original approach to dump the controls was "impractical," according to the report.
Google announced back in May that it has teamed up with Fiat Chrysler to build 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans. The car manufacturer is said to be providing the vans and Google would add its autonomous software with the aim of getting the vehicles on the road before the end of 2016.
While Google is putting the brakes on the development of its own self-driving vehicles, the report suggests that the firm still has big ambitions in the autonomous vehicle space, and plans to launch a driverless taxi service before the end of 2017.
Google, which already offers a carpooling feature via its Waze service, has been repeatedly rumoured to contemplate making a run in the on-demand car market – a move which could see the company square up against Uber and other like-minded competitors.
Google has yet to comment on the report but is hosting a media event centred around autonomous driving in San Francisco later on Tuesday.
Reports about Google ditching its own driverless vehicles comes just days after Nvidia was granted permission to start testing autonomous cars in California. µ
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