Google will build a fleet of self-driving taxis

August 29th, 2013

If you think that you’d never have the opportunity to ride in a self-driving car, then you thought wrong. Google is planning to put a fleet of autonomous “robo-taxis” on the road to be used on-demand by people wanting rides. This will both provide a service to those in need and promote Google’s car tech to many more people than simple advertising.

Google has so far gotten the laws changed in some U.S. states (Florida, Nevada, California, and Washington D.C.) in order to allow these cars on the roads. The company has come pretty far from being a simple search engine!

Part of the reason that Google plans to build this fleet of robo-taxis is because so far, car makers have appeared uninterested in what the company has to offer. Out of all the car makers, not even one has agreed to work with Google on autonomous automotive tech. This isn’t overly surprising, though, because most large car manufacturers have their own driving aids and probably don’t want to have to pay Google for proprietary tech.

For example, just in 2013, Volvo and Audi showed off self-navigating and self-steering cars that will steer to follow a highway, keep a safe distance back from other cars, and speed up or slow down with traffic conditions; both of these companies also have shown they have the tech for self-parking cars; and BMW has a car that can recognize exit and entry roads and will even change lanes to let merging cars onto the road.

As for the robo-taxis, Google has been in talks with major companies like Magna International and Continental AG to help with components. Google doesn’t have the know-how or factories to make its own cars, which explains the company’s efforts to hook up with auto partners.

It’s not like Google hasn’t done this before: the company has resorted to designing its own laptops and phones in order to start a trend of better components for Chrome software and the Android OS.

As for why Google wants to make a fleet of autonomous taxis, people in the company feel that they could reduce accidents and also reduce the need for people to own their own vehicles. The search engine giant currently owns a small group of autonomous Toyotas that are fitted with special software, sensors, and cameras. These cost around $150,000 to build. Google is working on bringing down the price; this will be done by the company designing and making some of its own components.

 

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