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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars 236

An anonymous reader writes in with this story explaining the contentious history between Google and Detroit automakers over the future of self-driving cars. In 2012, a small team of Google Inc engineers and business staffers met with several of the world's largest car makers, to discuss partnerships to build self-driving cars. In one meeting, both sides were enthusiastic about the futuristic technology, yet it soon became clear that they would not be working together. The Internet search company and the automaker disagreed on almost every point, from car capabilities and time needed to get it to market to extent of collaboration. It was as if the two were "talking a different language," recalls one person who was present. As Google expands beyond Web search and seeks a foothold in the automotive market, the company's eagerness has begun to reek of arrogance to some in Detroit, who see danger as well as promise in Silicon Valley.
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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

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  • detroit vs SV? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:20AM (#47350429)

    Really? Perhaps the folks from Detroit would perhaps learn something if they didn't act like they knew *EVERYTHING* about making cars. Have you seen the infotainment systems Detroit has stuck in their cars? Seriously? You guys should be listening to Google, Tesla, etc.

  • Ego (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cornwallis ( 1188489 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:21AM (#47350435)

    The entire Detroit car scene has never been about transportation. It is a sales vehicle (sorry) for egos. I think Google, much as I dislike them, are looking at cars as transportation. Too mundane for the Detroit crowd... but much more practical.

  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:22AM (#47350439) Homepage Journal

    As Google expands beyond Web search and seeks a foothold in the automotive market, the company's eagerness has begun to reek of arrogance to some in Detroit, who see danger as well as promise in Silicon Valley.

    Danger to their present business models, you mean.

    Personally, I think that Tesla would be an excellent company to talk with. Elon Musk speaks their language.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:35AM (#47350565) Homepage

    Maybe Google should be working with a company like Tesla instead. It seems like Google would need to find a partner that a background in manufacturing cars, but was a little more innovative and forward-thinking than the big guys in Detroit have historically been.

    Along with everything else, my guess is that if this technology really becomes commonplace, it will be disruptive and it will likely result in fewer people actually owning cars. In cases like this, sometimes getting businesses with entrenched interests onboard is not only difficult, but counter productive.

  • by Anubis IV ( 1279820 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:53AM (#47350731)

    If you go back and listen to executives from the music or film industries talk about when they started to get approached by folks from Apple, Amazon, or others from the digital era, you'll hear similar stories. There was a lot of distrust between the sides, and what was needed was someone who could bridge the gap, speak both their languages, and help each side appreciate the problems of the other. People in many other industries think that technology is magical and that anything is possible, so they won't accept excuses or explanations to the contrary. People in Silicon Valley have a tendency to think that everything else is trivial, and fail to recognize the value in doing things in a different way...kinda like physicists [].

    This isn't about arrogance or bad attitudes. This is simply about two companies from different worlds, trying to get on the same page, and it's no surprise that they'd have these sorts of difficulties. They'll eventually start talking to each other, it's just a matter of when and under what conditions.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @11:55AM (#47350749)
    I'm sure the buggy whip manufacturers thought Henry Ford was arrogant, too.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @12:26PM (#47351039)

    I expect it is an issue of conflicting arrogance from Google and Detroit.
    Tech companies do things fast, if it doesn't work, well it was worth a shot now for the next project.
    Car companies need to make sure the car lasts for years, a ton a regulations are on them to make sure the car runs and is safe. Every glitch can mean you have to go to a congressional hearing.
    Recalls cost a lot of money and it isn't just a software patch. In general things in Detroit are much harder then Google probably expects.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:01PM (#47351369)

    "Actual Roads" in one of the tamest environments in the world, weather-wise. Show me their autonomous car driving in a north-east winter storm. Automakers test their cars in these conditions, but Google is not. Until they do, the Google autonomous car is just another Silicon Valley pipe dream.

  • Re:detroit vs SV? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gtall ( 79522 ) on Monday June 30, 2014 @01:49PM (#47351817)

    That reluctance to change probably has to do with if you intend to sell several million of something, and you produce several million of that something, you'd better be damn sure you will sell several million of said something. Try taking those gambles with the toy systems that Google produces.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson