Google will soon be one step closer to bringing its autonomous car technology to the consumer market, as a report on Monday claims the company is teaming up with Ford on a project that could lead to automated ride sharing services.
Ford’s automated Fusion hybrid test vehicle. | Source: Ford
Citing sources familiar with the matter, Yahoo Autos reports the partnership is equally beneficial for both parties, with Ford getting a boost in self-driving software development and Google gaining access to invaluable automobile manufacturing expertise.
Ford just this month announced plans to begin field tests of prototype self-driving vehicles in California. Google, on the other hand, has a fleet of 53 cars that have together clocked more than a million miles on public roads in San Francisco and Austin, Tex.
The report goes on to say that Ford is looking to legally separate itself from the initiative to decrease exposure to liability, suggesting the joint venture might be spun off as it own legal entity. Reports last week claimed Google is planning to do much the same and will formally break off into an Alphabet subsidiary next year. Google’s tie-up with Ford is not exclusive, the report notes, meaning deals with other car makers could be in the works.
Google and Ford are expected to announce the partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, sources said.
At the intersection of tech and heavy industry, self-driving cars have become a hot topic for both automobile makers and technology companies. The world’s largest and most profitable tech company, Apple, is also rumored to be working on its own automobile project in secret.
Dubbed Project Titan, AppleInsider sources indicate Apple’s skunkworks initiative is currently operating out of a secret lab near the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. While Apple has yet to comment on Titan — CEO Tim Cook actively dodged questions in a “60 Minutes” interview — the company has made numerous hires from the auto industry, including former Tesla engineers and software developers working on autonomous technologies.