Google has been working hard on its self-driving cars for years now, although its endgame has never been clear.
Will Google sell driverless cars directly to the public? Will it license the technology for use in existing car makers’ vehicles? Or will it launch an Uber competitor that lets users hire self-driving cars to take them to their destinations?
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That last one is what Bloomberg alleges, and frankly it’s a bit mind-blowing. If Google launches a driverless Uber-like service it may finally feel like the future has arrived.
Imagine: pull out your pocket computer (aka smartphone), tap a few buttons and within minutes a fully automated vehicle shows up at the curb and takes you where you want to go. Neato!
Keep in mind that Google Ventures invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Uber less than two years ago, which would make this rivalry all the more personal.
In fact, a source close to Uber’s board of directors says that’s how the plan came to light: Google Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President of Corporate Development David Drummond, who joined Uber’s board in 2013, reportedly told them it’s a possibility.
As a result Drummond may be asked to resign from the board, though that won’t stop Google from moving forward.
Interestingly, while Google is working on cutting into Uber’s business, Uber may cut into Google’s, with its own research into self-driving cars with Carnegie Mellon University (hinted at last year and officially announced this week).
Given all the well-publicized trouble Uber has had with its drivers lately that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Now if only the company could automate its executive positions as well.
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