Google and Ford are planning a joint venture to manufacture self-driving cars based on technology being tested by the search giant, and an announcement is likely in January.
Neither company confirmed this development, which was first reported by Yahoo Auto. Ford spokesperson only said the company was in discussions with several partners on this front.
According to reports, which indicated an announcement is likely at the Consumer Electronic Show next month, the joint venture would be independent of both companies.
Self-driving car is the new frontier for both auto and IT companies with several projects on the ground, and rolling: Nissan, Mercedes, Volvo and even Apple.
Google has been testing a self-driving technology on modified Lexus and smaller custom-built low-speed cars made by a Ford supplier for s while — it has 53 on these on road now.
Ford, on the other hand, has had a Ford Mobility Plan — to turn into a “mobility company”, as CEO Mark Fields likes to put it — to drive its self-driving auto project.
A joint venture would save Google billions it would’ve to spend otherwise to create an automotive manufacturing facility and Ford would gain probably the best-tested technology around.
Google has long had plans in this area — with co-founder Sergey Brin driving it, saying autonomous cars could save 33,000 annual road accident deaths in the US.
That’s still research in progress though. A recent study showed a large number of accidents involving autonomous cars, though not caused by them; all were caused by human-driven vehicles.
Google has larger plans for their autonomous car project. Alphabet, its parent company, plans to take its over and start a taxi or car-sharing service in urban areas.
Word about the joint venture didn’t surprise industry watchers, some of whom pointed to the fact that former Ford CEO Alan Mulally is on the board of the search giant.
And Google’s autonomous car project is headed by a 14-year Ford veteran. There are several other Ford executives on his team as well, according to reports.