Google & Ford Could Be in Driving Seat for Autonomous Cars

Google and Ford are reportedly expected to announce a deal to create self-driving cars at the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January 2016.

Yahoo Autos, citing three sources, reports that Ford CEO Mark Fields will announce the deal at CES.

The pair are expected to operate the company as a separate unit. Google has already talked about spinning off its driverless car unit as an independent entity under its Alphabet umbrella. (See Google Sings 'Alphabet' Song.)

For more on connected cars, visit the automotive channel here at Light Reading.

Ford is expected to build the cars. Google will provide the software that allows them to be on the road without a driver.

Google said that it had a self-driving automotive prototype ready this time last year. The company has also been working to get its Android operating system into more cars. (See Google Has Self-Driving Prototype Ready and Google Steering Android Towards Cars – Report.)

Of course, Google can't program out human error affecting its vehicles on the road. In its Californian drive tests over the last year, there are multiple reports of flesh-and-blood drivers crashing into its autonomous automobiles.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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DHagar 12/23/2015 | 1:33:05 PM
Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Dan, now this is one smart combination!  This truly brings together the core capabilities of each company.  As they "push the boundaries" into more autonomous functions they will undoubtedly create great demand for those functions, those cars, etc., even if it evolves, as opposed to moving to fully driverless cars.

I had exposure a couple of years ago to the Google technology, with Stanford, and became a believer that there are key elements to the technology that truly are safer than we human beings.  As people become aware, and better commercial offering, such as this brings, I think it will unleash demand.
MikeP688 12/23/2015 | 4:26:24 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Although the enthusiasm and evolution is warranted (and yes exciting to be witness to) there needs to be the human factor that must be brought to bear which seems to be forgotten in this quest to automate our lives.   Yes, the possibilities are limitless--but we have to think about the day after--something I hope that will be asked throughout deliberations here in 2016.

Happy Holidays To all...



Image result for Happy Holidays
DHagar 12/23/2015 | 4:36:55 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat MikeP688 - great points!  I couldn't agree with you more.  If we don't have the human intelligence, the combination will not be better.  I think we need to learn new ways to blend the human capabilities with technology - that will truly make it smarter.

Happy Holidays to you as well - love your design!
Ariella 12/23/2015 | 8:17:44 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Quite interesting how there are different points of view on driverless cars (and just how driverless they should be). Wired  reports that Google and Ford agree to make a car completely self-driving. 

Automakers like Mercedes, Audi, GM, and Tesla plan to offer features that let the car do the driving some of the time, using the human as backup in case something goes wrong. Like Google, Ford's skipping that part, because it comes with a serious challenge: How to safely transfer control between the robot and the human, particularly in an emergency.

"Right now, there's no good answer, which is why we're kind of avoiding that space," says Dr. Ken Washington, the automaker's VP of research and advanced engineering. "We're really focused on completing the work to fully take the driver out of the loop." Much like Google, Ford is fast forwarding to full automation, with hopes of offering a no-kidding, fully autonomous car in five years.
DHagar 12/23/2015 | 9:04:49 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Ariella, that is interesting - good info.  I did not realize the "handoff" was a technical challenge.  I was thinking the human control could supersede the automated controls and would override.

Actually, if I had to choose, the data confirms that the automated is % wise safer - the consistent knowledge/decisions that the computers use are more often correct than human judgment (ala Watson/Jeopardy).  But that takes some thinking and getting used to.

I still vote for the human override - in case we get cold feet or until the automomous cars fully convince us they are better.
DanJones 12/23/2015 | 11:22:31 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Then you get into fascinating situations though: Like if the automated system sees that it can't avoid a multi car pile up would it be more rational to drive itself into a wall, killing you, but saving the rest of the drivers.
DHagar 12/24/2015 | 1:05:28 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Dan, you are absolutely correct - now that is a different story!  In that case, I want access to the computer programming to "realign" the priorities - me vs. society.  No, you are right, the broader social/public society issues provide a different dynamic.  Or, if you look at the debates with profiling, terrorism protections, etc.

Technology is definitely moving us beyond the standard decisions into new realms.  I guess that is why we humans have to keep thinking, learning, staying informed, and growing.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!
DanJones 12/24/2015 | 2:42:23 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat Brave new world indeed, happy holidays.
KBode 12/27/2015 | 12:01:38 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat I'd agree. Should prove to be quite a helpful launching pad for both companies as they bring their respective expertise to the table. Hopefully we'll start seeing the technology more commonly implemented as initially a luxury option, and then common place. I say this as somebody who'd desperately like to nap during my commute. :)
DanJones 12/27/2015 | 7:28:43 PM
Re: Google & Ford in Driver's Seat The thing here is that Google is committed to self driving cars, not assisted driving systems.
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