Google has its not-evil tendrils reaching across nearly every corner of the internet and consumer electronics. From its Android operating system, to its search engine, to its ad platform, Google can’t stop, and won’t stop. It even has its hands in the automobile market, with its Street View cars being the holy grail of random road sightings. Its feelers don’t wrap around the consumer automobile market, though, but new reports claim that Google is working on just that — with a self-driving car fit for consumer use.
Consumer-grade self-driving cars would probably have to be eased into, as we can just jump straight to a Demolition Man style future right away. So, rather than assuming the very first consumer self-driving car could easily navigate the roadways, reports suggest that Google may instead opt to release the autonomous cars for use in a consumer taxi service.
A German newspaper reported that Google was nearing a deal with Continental AG — an auto-components supplier considered to be one of the world’s largest — specifically for parts to use in a self-driving vehicle. Google does not have its own car factories or even the experience to build its own vehicle, so turning to a components supplier would both make sense, and be very similar to how Google and Apple get their respective hardware made. Apple has Foxconn, while Google has recently been tapping Asus for their Nexus hardware needs.
Of course, even if Google is able to create a relatively low-cost autonomous consumer vehicle, it would first have to figure out how states could regulate it. A fleet of autonomous vehicles weaving in and out of traffic certainly seems dangerous when you realize the self-driving cars likely couldn’t communicate with your beat up 2002 Grand Prix. That said, certain states have passed legislation to allow the testing of autonomous cars on standard, public roads. So, that hurdle is likely taken care of.
If Google can figure out how to get some auto component companies to build the parts it needs — much like how the company handles the Nexus tablets — then that Demolition Man future of vehicles may not be too far off. We do not hope all restaurants become Taco Bell, but we do hope Google continues the Nexus naming convention, and names the cars after their rim size.
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