In the midst of a longer piece on the top-secret Google X lab, The New York Times drops this bomb: “Google may turn one of the ideas – the driverless cars that it unleashed on California’s roads last year – into a new business.”
It was just over a year ago when the world first heard of Google’s experiments, deploying Toyota Prius hatchbacks in California to rack up test miles of its self-driving vehicle system. Google launched the program in secret, but has since given presentations on the technology and the company’s goals for its deployment. Currently, the cars must have a human behind the wheel to act as a potential override to the system, but Google has indicated that it would like the system to get to the point that it operates free of human intervention. Google is currently working towards racking up over a million driverless miles.
While the Times report says that Google is considering building these autonomous cars in the U.S., we’ve got to believe that this is nothing more than conjecture. Even for a company as large and well-funded as Google, deciding to go into the carmaking business is not something you just jump into, especially not when your sales strategy involves a bleeding edge technology and you haven’t shown any desire or aptitude for designing or building nearly any other aspect of an automobile. Autonomous driving tech could be a truly transformative feature, but developing it and selling it to the industry as a supplier would seem to make much more sense, and it would doubtlessly hasten its arrival to the market.
Check out the TED Talks video after the jump to get up to speed on Google’s efforts.