Could Google fall behind China’s autonomous vehicle research? image

The Internet search giant is getting ready to disrupt the traditional auto industry with its autonomous project, involving self-driving “pods” that lack the characteristics of a modern day vehicle – such as a steering wheel and pedals.

The auto industry itself is not willing to let Google take command of the soon to be established market for autonomous transportation, but the danger for the Internet giant could actually come from other Internet titans – such as China’s Baidu. The US company might be beaten to the race by the Chinese giant as Baidu has announced plans to offer for sale a self-driving auto as soon as this year. The company wants to launch its first driverless vehicle within months and numerous reports are panning a partnership with BMW. Meanwhile, Google, hard at work testing the technology, has envisioned a commercial schedule for 2020 – in line with competitors within the traditional auto industry. Even Apple is reportedly making an electric car that could have self-driving capabilities and Tesla Motors believes its electric cars would have the self-driving abilities within three years.

There are numerous questions to be answered before we see which company – from the technology or automotive industries – would take charge of the newly created segment. For example Chinese manufacturers favor a rapid mass product introduction, though Baidu has acknowledged its first models would feature partially automated systems that would still require certain driver input. Google on the other hand will make a leap of faith, hitting straight the fully autonomous bandwagon.

Via Forbes