Ford and Google Team Up for Autonomous Cars: 7 Things to Know
Tech giant Google and automotive giant Ford Motor Co. are set to announce a partnership for development of autonomous cars. It's no secret that Google is trying to break into the self-driving automotive world, and while this news is a very smart move for a company that has never built a car before, it's still a surprise to us. Here is what you need to know about the partnership. What Each Bring to the Table Ford brings massive production capabilities to the table. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company built almost three million vehicles in North America last year, and more than six million globally. The company is synonymous with mass production. This is expertise that Google sorely needs. The tech firm has been hard at work on autonomous cars, but as exemplified by its first vehicles, it could use some automotive design leadership from Ford as well. RELATED: Google Could Rival Uber with a Self-Driving Car Service
A Non-Exclusive Partnership
According to Yahoo Autos Google already has 53 autonomous cars and millions of miles of research under its belt. Many of those cars are Lexus RX luxury SUVs, fitted with sensors and other equipment to make them autonomous. Last year Google teamed up with Roush to build those polarizing self-driving pods. As you can see, Google has been working with other automakers, and will continue to do so. Ford will be creating an entity that exists outside the parent company, to minimize its liability.
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Google has also been developing its autonomous cars under a dedicated team, headed by John Krafcik. The head of Google’s self driving car program was recently poached from Hyundai, but before that spent 14 years working at Ford. It should be noted former Ford CEO Allan Mulally joined Google’s board last year. So the connections with Ford are already strong.
There are obvious advantages for Google, a company that just a few years ago was just a search engine company, to team up with one of the oldest automakers in the business. They have never built a car, and while Roush is a terrific race car builder, they are not the mass-producer that Google needs. For Ford’s part, it has made its intentions known, recently calling itself a “mobility company,” but it was not making the same progress as Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, and other autonomous leaders. In one move, Ford’s self-driving initiatives get a shot in the arm.
RELATED: Google's Autonomous Cars are Programed to Speed
An Affordable Autonomous Car
Google will most certainly not be selling a consumer car to the masses. It wants to launch a service that will compete with Uber, but without the drivers. But for Ford’s part, it will first work semi-autonomous features into its vehicles in the immediate future, and will most certainly offer a self-driving car that you can buy and put in your driveway. Ford has long offered affordable vehicles. Even the Mustang is a “sports car for the people,” so when we finally get to the point where automakers are selling autonomous cars in dealerships, Ford could very well win the pricing game.
RELATED: U. of Michigan's MCity Autonomous Car Proving Grounds Open to the Public
Testing In California and Michigan
Ford has announced that it received permits for the testing of its autonomous Fusion in California. It has multiple such vehicles at its Silicon Valley facility. Ford was also the first to test its autonomous vehicles at MCity, the autonomous vehicle proving grounds at the University of Michigan, which opened in July.
One More Reason to Watch CES
Ford CEO Mark Fields will formally announce the partnership at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show early in January. As alt-fuel drivetrains, high-tech infotainment, and self-driving technologies have developed through the years, CES has become an increasingly crucial show in the automotive world, and a can’t-miss stop on the auto show circuit. We’ll be at the show in January, so stay tuned.