The tech giant has reportedly scaled back its 8-year self-driving car project in favor of working with existing auto makers. What made Google change its mind?
Even though Google's (NASDAQ: Alphabet Class A [GOOGL]) driverless cars have already gone through more than two million miles of public road testings, the company made an unexpected decision to cut its ambitions of developing a fully self-driving car without a steering wheel and control pedals. According to the report of The Information, Google will move away from working on an entire self-driving vehicle and instead focus on providing sensors and other technology for cars developed by other manufacturers.
The report says that the idea of building a self-driving car without a steering wheel and control pedals was agreed to be way too "impractical" within the company, yet there was still no official confirmation of the statements made in The Information's report. Already back in May, Google made a deal with Fiat to equip 100 Pacific hybrid minivans with self-driving technology to test the feasibility of working with side producers.
In addition to that, Google's self-driving car development centre named Chauffeur is already working with well-known automakers on developing autonomous driving cars that feature Google's self-driving tech and don't completely remove the "traditional" steering wheel and pedals. Fiat Chrysler is Google's first partnership in this domain, with many more contracts to come in the future, says TechCrunch.
USA Today adds that another important factor behind Google's unexpected switch is the fast growing competition. When Google started out testing its first prototypes back in 2009, the company was the absolute leader in the newly-emerging industry whereas today new promising companies from both seasoned automakers and young startups like Comma.ai join the race every few months. And this is exactly what prompted Google's co-founder Larry Page to reconsider his view of the project's future as the danger of being left behind in this fierce competition has grown immensely.
However, it is still not clear what Google's plan on the driverless car project is exactly because no official comment has been received from the company so far. Later today, Google will host a conference where the company will share more information regarding the surprising news revealed by The Information.