Internet giant Google Inc. announced that it’s ready for open collaboration and discussions have begun with most of the global automakers on the prospects of automotive driverless car research.
According to Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car program, the technology company has gathered a dedicated team of traditional and nontraditional suppliers that would spearhead efforts to introduce fully autonomous cars to the US roads by 2020. “We’d be remiss not to talk to … the biggest auto manufacturers. They’ve got a lot to offer,” commented the executive, saying that among the carmakers that Google entered negotiations are General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. While the company has already premiered prototypes of self-driving vehicles – curiously egg-shaped cars that have room for two persons and lack traditional automotive elements such as the steering wheel and brake pedals – Google has not yet made up its mind whether to market such vehicles by itself as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or simply become the provider of systems and software for the established automakers. Those prototypes have been contracted to engineering and specialty manufacturing company Roush to be built in Detroit.
Earlier this week, before Urmson’s announcement, Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer also declared the company’s willingness to embark on the driverless journey with Google. For now, the latter has developed and is currently refining its self-driving systems and components with auto part makers such as Continental AG, Robert Bosch, ZF and LG Electronics. Additionally, the concept cars use microprocessors built by Nvidia –a chipmaker that successfully expanded its business from selling graphic cards to smartphone chips and becoming a supplier to traditional carmakers.