Google To Make Driverless Cars An Alphabet Company In 2016

by John Lippert, Bloomberg

google driverless car

Steve Jurvetson/Creative Commons

Google Inc. plans to make its self-driving cars unit, which will offer rides for hire, a stand-alone business under the Alphabet Inc. corporate umbrella next year, a person briefed on the company’s strategy said.

Google’s autonomous vehicles have logged more than 1 million miles (1.6 million kilometers) on public roads, mostly around San Francisco and Austin, Texas, making these cities logical places for launching a service, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private. The fleets ­ –  which would include a range of large and small vehicles  –  could be deployed first in confined areas like college campuses, military bases or corporate office parks, the person said.

The race to develop a self-driving vehicle fleet has intensified since February when Bloomberg reported that Google was developing a rival to Uber Technologies Inc., most likely in conjunction with its driverless-car project. Uber is pursuing its own autonomous capabilities, while automakers are deploying semi-autonomous technologies while experimenting with so-called shared mobility.

By challenging ride-sharing pioneers like Uber and Lyft Inc., as well as traditional taxis, Google is providing the clearest indication yet how it plans to make money from self-driving automotive technologies that it began testing in 2009. Google spokeswoman Gina Scigliano declined to comment.

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Related San Francisco Chronicle story on today’s release of draft regulations for robocars: DMV wants driverless cars to have licensed drivers

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