Is Google building a fleet of driver-less cars?

Recent Google business deals point to the creation of a driver-less fleet of cars.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/ AP Photo/ File
Children look inside the self-driving car at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California.

Google has taken a leap from designing driver-less technology, to building a fleet of its own driver-less cars, according to a report by the former Wall Street Journal reporter Amir Efrati. Prior to this, Google was rumored to be developing new driver-less car technology, but after the company reportedly failed to strike a deal with a big car brand, Google shifted gears, according to Mr. Efrati's report. 

Not one for letting other companies hold it back, Google began talks with auto-component manufacturers such as Continental AG and Magna International. On Thursday of last week, an article appeared in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung, which stated that Google was nearing a deal with Continental to create parts for a self-driving car system. 

These recent developments come around the same time that Google invested $258 million in Uber, a car-hailing service, fueling speculation that Google's eventual goal is to have these cars become part of a fleet of self-driving taxis. But Google and Uber face several hurdles if this partnership were to become a reality. 

Uber was founded back in the 2009, and has experienced a surge of popularity since then, with services in more than 35 countries. The service calls a car for the user – with options ranging from a lower-cost shared ride to more expensive personal taxis – and connects the customer to the cab.

However, Uber has also been tangled in a series of lawsuits in major cities in the United States for upsetting the taxi industry and taking a cut of its drivers' tips. While joining forces with Google and eliminating the frustrations of dealing with a taxi might make business go more smoothly for Uber, it seems unlikely that the taxi industry, especially in large cities such as New York, would be willing to take this kind of car-service sea change without a fight. 

It also merits noting that if Google and Uber continue to have close ties – such as Google’s $258 million investment in Uber – there could be a myriad of legal implications for both Google and Uber, according to a report by If Google controls a whole elite fleet of taxis and Uber distributes their services, Uber, the taxi-hailing alternative, could become the player on the new driver-less cab market.  

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