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Google, Detroit Split On Autonomous Cars

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the irreconcilable-differences dept.

Transportation 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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detroit vs SV? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:detroit vs SV? (2, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about 3 months ago | (#47350523)

those ugly systems are easy to learn and use while driving so you can keep your eyes on the road
they aren't there to watch the game or a movie or text while barreling down the highway at 70mph

Re:detroit vs SV? (-1, Flamebait)

Shoten (260439) | about 3 months ago | (#47350629)

those ugly systems are easy to learn and use while driving so you can keep your eyes on the road
they aren't there to watch the game or a movie or text while barreling down the highway at 70mph

Having just spent 4 days driving a new Cadillac, I beg to disagree. To GM, I have this to say: faggots, faggots, FAGGOTS. Let's see, where to start. Touchscreen controls that hide themselves until your finger gets near the touchscreen. Touchscreen controls that have the volume control set up in the exact same region as the play/pause/rewind/fast-forward controls so that if your finger moves at all while touching the controls, you end up with a volume bar across the bottom instead of what you wanted. Below the screen, all of the controls (for climate control) are both touch-sensitive (no tactile or audio feedback) and close enough that your fingers brush against them without you realizing...and since there's no information for climate control displayed whatsoever except when you're in the process of changing the settings (and that information auto-hides shortly thereafter) you won't realize that you just cranked the temperature on one side of the car to 78 degrees until you wonder why the air conditioning seems to be fighting itself. The touchscreen was enormous...but very little of that real estate was actually put to use. No audio settings control on the steering wheel at all, save for volume. All in all, an abysmally bad user interface on what GM considers one of their nicest cars. I had to spend way more time looking at the display than I was comfortable doing just to change tracks on my iPhone, or just check to see if the temperature was still what it was supposed to be.

Detroit needs to have a Coke and a smile...and then shut the fuck up so that they can listen to Google.

Re:detroit vs SV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350761)

those ugly systems are easy to learn and use while driving so you can keep your eyes on the road
they aren't there to watch the game or a movie or text while barreling down the highway at 70mph

Having just spent 4 days driving a new Cadillac, I beg to disagree. To GM, I have this to say: faggots, faggots, FAGGOTS. ...

Yay for homophobia.

Re:detroit vs SV? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350905)

those ugly systems are easy to learn and use while driving so you can keep your eyes on the road
they aren't there to watch the game or a movie or text while barreling down the highway at 70mph

Having just spent 4 days driving a new Cadillac, I beg to disagree. To GM, I have this to say: faggots, faggots, FAGGOTS. ...

Yay for homophobia.

Well, he did say he was driving a Cadillac!

Re:detroit vs SV? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47350769)

To GM, I have this to say: faggots, faggots, FAGGOTS.

Why, is the interface based around a pink and lavender floral motif? Did the car whisper navigation directions to you as sweet nothings in your ear, through moustachioed lips? Perhaps it was the way the seat cushions cupped your ass cheeks.

Touch screen controls are pretty awful if they aren't massive, though. Almost everyone gets that horribly wrong. AFAICT Tesla is the only company to actually put a decently-sized display into a production car. I'd still rather have normal controls.

Audi wants people to trace letters on a touchpad now. Yowza. I consider myself to be fairly bright, and I'm pretty sure I would find that distracting even while driving a car with radar cruise control and lane detection.

Re:detroit vs SV? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350809)

IMHO, Detroit has a lot to learn. Their track record hasn't been that great, and the only reason why two of the big three are still around is due to being on the dole, and one of them is now based out of the Netherlands.

I also rented a similar model as the parent poster, and a model from Ford in the same category when on various trips. The Ford didn't have some of the cute features, but it was a lot better designed with a very usable screen.

I used to chastise people that they should buy a car from the country where they want the jobs to be at. However, with GM tending to "badge engineer" Daewoo and other import brand vehicles [1] and Dodge being almost a figurehead name, the only two quality vehicle makers here in the US are Ford and Tesla.

Re:detroit vs SV? (3, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47351033)

Last I heard, Areal Atoms are built in Virginia. But I think the bastards took away their VINs. So you can't license the new ones for street use.

They don't sell quite as many cars as Tesla, but they make up for by selling much better cars.

Re:detroit vs SV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350915)

Cars were better when the user controls weren't computers. The car companies know nothing about creating a user interface for a computer. They could barely make one for a car.

Re:detroit vs SV? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351107)

The amazingly widespread failure in automotive UI design, one that I've never understood, (some cars don't suffer from it, so it's clearly not a fundamentally intractable problem) is the tendency to force the user to putz around with 'intensity of heat/cold coming out of the vents' rather than just providing a thermostat.

I don't want my car to be "Turn the little dial with waves on the left, strips of bacon on the right, all the way toward the bacon, then, once you start to feel heat coming out, turn the dial all the way from empty-outline-of-stylized-fan-blades to fully-shaded-stylized-fan-blades, until it starts to get too hot, then twist the fan dial down to empty outlines again and the bacon dial to midway between waves and bacon..." I want it to be the comfortable temperature of my choosing. Let hot, cold, and hysteresis be a machine's problem...

Re:detroit vs SV? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350551)

perhaps if during this perhapsing they perhapsed a little bit more, then perhaps what is happening wouldn't happen. perhaps.

Re:detroit vs SV? (2)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 3 months ago | (#47350651)

Do you specifically mean the American marques that have crappy infotainment systems? I've owned both 2007 Toyota and 2011 Subaru infotainment/navigation systems, and as far as the software/UI goes, they were perfectly useable and functional.

Re:detroit vs SV? (2, Interesting)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 3 months ago | (#47350691)

Maybe Detroit was a little reluctant to put themselves in a position of being wholly dependent on Google for such a critical system, or allowing Google to collect all that location data on all their customers completely unchecked. I can't blame them.

Re:detroit vs SV? (2)

TWX (665546) | about 3 months ago | (#47350917)

Then perhaps they should make a concerted effort to get such systems up and working themselves, before they're forced through future government regulation to take someone else's system that they don't care for and use it because they lack one.

Automakers don't do anything unless they are forced to. This is the big difference between them and tech companies; automakers change only when either their products don't sell, or when the law requires changes. We wouldn't have new fuel economy standards, strong emissions standards, and strong safety standards if the automakers weren't compelled to change through outside pressure.

And I agree, automotive interfaces SUCK. They should NEVER require sight to use them, with the exception of the backup camera, and possibly with the view of the map in certain circumstances. The interface should be entirely tactile and easy to learn or intuitive to use. Taking one's eyes off the road to do a basic thing like turning down the volume on the stereo is ridiculous.

Re:detroit vs SV? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 3 months ago | (#47350929)

Maybe Detroit was a little reluctant to put themselves in a position of being wholly dependent on Google for such a critical system, or allowing Google to collect all that location data on all their customers completely unchecked. I can't blame them.

More likely they were concerned with who would be accountable if there were an accident.

Re:detroit vs SV? (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 3 months ago | (#47351293)

That's part of the entire issue. Who's to blame when 2 auto's go bump.
While 2 compatible communication systems should not crash or even bumps, what do you do when you got a chunk of metal barreling down the road in the left lane and the driver falls asleep. While it's obvious to us that sleepy head should bear all the blame, the dispute will be fought in court.

Not only that, I would think that this would force all the manufactures of auto's to open new companies to avoid the legal liability to the main brand. IE: ford auto drive group, licensed to use the designs...

Ego (4, Insightful)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Ego (2)

TonyJohn (69266) | about 3 months ago | (#47350889)

I'm not sure what Google's business plan really is. Is it to make cars, or at least make money by supplying software for cars? Most of their other software they give away for free. Or do they want to free us up from driving so that we can make use of online services (and therefore adverts) instead? Or do they want all the data about where we go and when to be able to connect into the rest of our online lives and help advertise to us better? J

Re:Ego (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 3 months ago | (#47351031)

I think your last two points hit the nail on the head. It's the same reasons they decided to make an operating system for phones. They want people to be using their online services all the time. If autonomous driving ever really starts working, to the point where we don't have to pay attention to the road, then they will have reached their goal. We'll be able to browse the web while our cars drive us to work. The may even have a device in the car like a tablet. They can sell us more apps, books, music, movies as well.

Re:Ego (1)

PrimaryConsult (1546585) | about 3 months ago | (#47351313)

The same goal can be accomplished with better public transportation. If every city > 500k population had a well designed rail system, many more people would be able to use their phones while commuting. I wonder if Google went into that field, would they have less opposition? A "google subway" would also make a great network of tunnels for running fiber...

Re: Ego (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351087)

I think their plan in general is to solve a problem with some technical innovation and once the solution is popular they think how to make money with it.

Re:Ego (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351225)

This is the future of cars anyway. The days in the US of Highway 666, the open road, and such have long since given way to having to struggle through traffic, find parking lots, high MPG numbers, a decent entertainment system while stuck in the parking lots, and safety when a texter hits your vehicle. Torque and horsepower were useful in the past, but other than to accelerate enough to make a gap, what is more needed are vehicles that are intended for city cores, not highways.

Detroit needs to focus on this. Look at the Jetta TDI and its 65 MPG. Those things are extremely common on the road. They are slow, but the only time you need speed is to get into the correct lane before a SUV cuts you off. 60-0 braking matters far more these days than 0-60 acceleration.

If Detroit doesn't... well, VW and other foreign firms will.

Google should talk with Tesla (4, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | about 3 months ago | (#47350439)

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.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350747)

Tesla is probably too small for what Google wants - however they may just be the right size.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (4, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 3 months ago | (#47350749)

I'm sure the buggy whip manufacturers thought Henry Ford was arrogant, too.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350803)

They weren't wrong, though.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (2)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 3 months ago | (#47350921)

It is not arrogance if you can do it. Ford was arrogant in the same way that he was successful, he had every right to be. Buggy Whip Makers were arrogant, the people looking for government protections for their failing industries are arrogant. They think they have a RIGHT to entrenched markets when new technology appears.

But rather than learning from history, we are doomed to repeat it.

My guess, Tesla will work with Google, as will companies like Elio. And taxi drivers will be pissed and demand protection ....

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 3 months ago | (#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.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (2)

SenatorPerry (46227) | about 3 months ago | (#47350751)

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.

I think the problem is that Google missed their opportunity to buy GM outright during the crash. My impression is that the only way to drag GM to the future is through eliminating the people that would say "Yahoo does well enough, why do we need a new search engine?". The second question to ask is whether the people that worked for GM for 25 years would be willing to work for Google-GM. My guess is that the answer is yes...

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (3, Informative)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47351211)

GMs pension liabilities are huge. The company as currently constructed is, more or less, a non-profit structured to pay pensions.

If you had Google type capital and wanted to enter the car market you would be insane to buy GM. Start from scratch, leave the deadwood behind. Honda B-engine VTEC should be out of patent protection. Just copy it (with racy parts) and bolt it up mid engine, modern trans and carbon fiber body. Woot. You won't be the first to found a company on a straight copy of Honda engine (Hyundai), but you could be the first to do it right.

Quick Google: GM has about 114 billion in unfunded pension liabilities (104 billion white collar, 10 billion union which is relatively well funded). http://online.wsj.com/news/art... [wsj.com]

GM has a market cap of 58.73 billion. A number which no-doubt reflects the future expenses (not so much, it reflects recent performance, velocity, advertising to investors etc).

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | about 3 months ago | (#47350833)

No, I think the car companies are right, the tech for fully autonomous has no been proven and is far from ready.

It's all well and good having multiple HD feeds, lasers etc but if the recognition system can't tell the difference between a car and a big fish then it is not ready.

3D recognition might be good enough to play games on Xbox but it's not good enough to maneuver cars, trucks etc.

Go watch the videos and you'll see how clunky the recognition systems are.(note the difference between the pre-programmed maps and what is being recognised)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

The mileage that google says the cars have done - it has said that these miles were on quiet extensively digitized areas and it now needs to test the cars on more difficult busy roads. IE it has barely started.

Re:Google should talk with Tesla (1)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 3 months ago | (#47350967)

No, I think the car companies are right, the tech for fully autonomous has no been proven and is far from ready.

It's all well and good having multiple HD feeds, lasers etc but if the recognition system can't tell the difference between a car and a big fish then it is not ready.

3D recognition might be good enough to play games on Xbox but it's not good enough to maneuver cars, trucks etc.

I've been wondering why we are jumping right to autonomous cars and not implementing autonomous trains on a large scale instead. It seems like an far simpler problem set. Your navigation options are pretty limited. the area that could contain obstacles is pretty limited. There have been some serious accidents caused by negligent locomotive operators. Why are we going right for the hardest level of autonomous navigation in the most chaotic environment?

After trains, why are we not working to automate tractor trailer trucks? again, they don't operate on the entire road system so it's probably a simpler problem to solve. I suppose the answer is simply that truck drivers would lose their jobs. (but clearly, they are today's blacksmiths. 20 years from now, truck drivers are only going to be seen at ren-faires)

Not Google's Business Model Either... (1)

Thinking Tom (2073828) | about 3 months ago | (#47350857)

"I would imagine that this is probably different than just making more time for people to click on web sites," --director of Google's self-driving car group quoted in article.

I'm sure he just meant that Google's standard business model won't apply--they will need to actually have people pay to either own or license the technology, rather than freeing time for them to use Google's traditional revenue sources. I imagine the interviewer had to ask a pretty silly question...

Freeing up time is enough to sell billions of dollars worth of these cars--more, to make people spend billions of dollars *more* on cars than they otherwise would--in New York and Los Angeles alone.

Also, the automakers are used to living in a litigation-averse culture; self-driving cars are going to make it a *lot* easier to determine who is at fault in court cases.

Detroit calls Google arrogant? (5, Informative)

disposable60 (735022) | about 3 months ago | (#47350443)

This is the Detroit that didn't take Japanese brands seriously until it almost killed them.
The Detroit that needed 30+ years to bring a small, efficient, powerful engine to the US.because they knew best what American wanted (big V8s for drag racing).
The Detroit that hides the fact that Mitsubishi (Chrysler), Toyota (GM) and Mazda (Ford) built their small cars for 20-some years.
But Google is arrogant.
Right.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (5, Interesting)

Shatrat (855151) | about 3 months ago | (#47350581)

Is this a republicans vs democrats thread in disguise? Just because one side of the discussion is arrogant doesn't mean the other is not. Google has a long history of failed projects because they're not afraid to over promise and blindly charge into a project. I think the ignition recall is a good illustration that the automotive industry doesn't have that luxury. My Google TV appliance, which is now an abandoned project, isn't going to kill me. An abandoned self driving car project might, even if it's not my car.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 3 months ago | (#47350699)

>Is this a republicans vs democrats thread in disguise?

Isn't every thread on Slashdot a political one these days? I swear, sometimes I think this place has become a cesspool of political mudslinging. I miss the old days before politics took over.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350801)

Arrogant pacifist whiner !
Oooops, sorry, you are **correct**.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350871)

When was that? I remember a lot of politial mudslinging on here in 1999.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350879)

A lot of people posting here are not from the US and don't give a shit about either of your parties. If you think every thread is about your politics, maybe it's because YOU are obsessed with politics. Look outside! Life is beautiful and full of wonder!

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (4, Funny)

wiggles (30088) | about 3 months ago | (#47350957)

> Look outside! Life is beautiful and full of wonder!

Typical Euro-socialist garbage. :)

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 3 months ago | (#47350843)

I don't think you need to go digging for hidden motivations to explain American antipathy towards our corporate "friends"

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

userw014 (707413) | about 3 months ago | (#47351011)

This might be urban vs. exurban.

Google's existing autonomous prototype is limited to 25mph. If Google could make a production vehicle that'd go as fast as 35mph, that'd satisfy my daily commute (90% of my driving) and shopping (another 9% for a total of 99% of my driving.)

But that assumes I'd still own the car and not use it most of the time. (I.e.: park it at home or at work 23:15 hours per. day.)

I could save money by using public transportation. I'm urban. However, most of the population of SE Lower Michigan (where I and I presume "Detroit"s designer/engineers live) is exurban, driving from one suburb (or exurb) to another for their jobs.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 months ago | (#47351189)

Google has a long history of failed projects because they're not afraid to over promise and blindly charge into a project.

Google also has a long history of successful projects for the same reasons.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350631)

Completely agree. The automotive industry is completely unwilling to advance or change, yet they want the American taxpayer to bail them out when they run into trouble financially.

Re: Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47350697)

which they do with barely a whimper and certainly without action - so Detroit is wise to assume they will again, continue producing crappy cars, and give themselves fat bonuses.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (2)

Drethon (1445051) | about 3 months ago | (#47350639)

Anything that costs the share holders their daily profit is highly "arrogant".

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (5, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | about 3 months ago | (#47350673)

This is the Detroit that didn't take Japanese brands seriously until it almost killed them.
The Detroit that needed 30+ years to bring a small, efficient, powerful engine to the US.because they knew best what American wanted (big V8s for drag racing).
The Detroit that hides the fact that Mitsubishi (Chrysler), Toyota (GM) and Mazda (Ford) built their small cars for 20-some years.
But Google is arrogant.
Right.

Actually, Google is arrogant. The company culture deliberately and intentionally breeds a brand of arrogance, always encouraging its people to look for revolutionary rather than incremental changes, to bring 10X or 100X improvements, and works to convince them that they can succeed. Everyone is fully cognizant of the fact that if you swing for the fences you'll miss most of the time, but they figure that's okay because the successes will make up for it. And, of course, the Google-X crew is the elite of Google, people who have previously had fantastic success, built products used on a daily basis by hundreds of millions of people. So have Detroit automakers, of course, but they've built up slowly over the course of a century, while Google is still shy of its 17th birthday.

For that matter, although we've talked about it enough for the last two or three years to make it seem less insane, there's a good argument that even attempting to solve a problem as hard as a fully automated car requires tremendous arrogance. Except that they actually seem to be succeeding, which I guess changes it from arrogance to confidence.

So, I'd say it's kind of a given that when the old-breed, "we've been doing this for generations" brand of arrogance meets the upstart "we've literally changed the world in a little over a decade" brand of arrogance, sparks are going to fly. And the fact that the upstarts have working technology to do what the old breed still isn't sure is possible isn't going to help one bit.

From a cultural perspective, Tesla seems like a much easier fit. That said, if Google and Detroit can find a way to work together, the disparity of backgrounds and cultures should actually make the results much better. But that's a big, big "if".

(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but on phones, not cars, and I definitely don't speak for Google.)

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 months ago | (#47350715)

Actually, Google is arrogant.

Well, I've seen a little evidence of that here and there, but nothing major. What's yours?

The company culture deliberately and intentionally breeds a brand of arrogance

You mean like practically every company ever, whose mantra is "we can do it better than the next guy so you should give us your money"?

always encouraging its people to look for revolutionary rather than incremental changes

Holy shit, not progress. That would be terribly forward-thinking. We must remain in the past!

to bring 10X or 100X improvements

Wow. I mean, when you said progress, I had no idea you meant orders of magnitude of improvement. That would be really, really terrible.

and works to convince them that they can succeed

...when what they should be doing is setting them up for failure because that would be less arrogant.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 months ago | (#47350805)

Reading the article, I don't think it's a matter of arrogance, it's a matter of differing levels of safety concerns.

Remember that the CEO of GM just had to appear before congress and have a recall over a small little ignition switches that caused 31 crashes over a decade. They have been on the losing side of lawsuits, and want to be careful.

Google doesn't really worry about all that......they figure as long as it's safer than a human driving, then they are happy. That's something like 400,000 deaths in a decade. So there's several orders of magnitude difference in what these groups are thinking in terms of safety. That seems to be the main problem.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

RobinH (124750) | about 3 months ago | (#47351141)

For that matter, although we've talked about it enough for the last two or three years to make it seem less insane, there's a good argument that even attempting to solve a problem as hard as a fully automated car requires tremendous arrogance. Except that they actually seem to be succeeding, which I guess changes it from arrogance to confidence.

I don't think there's any evidence that Google has actually "succeeded" in coming up with a car that's marketable to the general population. It's easy to say you're succeeding when you've solved 90% of the problems, but if the 10% remaining include nearly insurmountable obstacles without some more technological breakthroughs, then I don't think we can call it success. It won't be success until regular people are "driving" them.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 3 months ago | (#47351325)

So, I'd say it's kind of a given that when the old-breed, "we've been doing this for generations" brand of arrogance meets the upstart "we've literally changed the world in a little over a decade" brand of arrogance, sparks are going to fly. And the fact that the upstarts have working technology to do what the old breed still isn't sure is possible isn't going to help one bit.

Working technology? Well, sort of.

I'd like to see how comfortable these cars are to operate as random folks seeing the LiDAR unit on top of the car swerve suddenly towards the car to see how it responds. Hell, I'd do it once or twice to see if I could make it flinch and I'm a pretty mild guy in his 50's. I'd love to see what a few teenagers could do with your "smart" car. And I figure replacing a broken LiDAR unit would be a lot more expensive than replacing a couple of slashed tires. Yes, I can see many scenarios where you might be tossed out of autonomous mode quite frequently or incur higher costs, making this "feature" not particularly cost effective.

Think about Google Glass and think how well some early adopter with an automated chauffeur (one that might be slowing down traffic) would fare - that's all I'm saying.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350775)

The Japanese didn't almost kill them, their over-reliance on SUVs as well as their overproduction is what almost killed them. They'd produce so many vehicles that they'd have to deep discount them in order to clear inventory.

The Japanese brands were a bit of a nudge towards extinction, but with their poor planning practices it would have happened on its own.

In this case, I think that it's unrealistic for a bunch of outsiders to presume to know how long it's going to take. If you look at the prototype it's got some serious issues. For example, no manual controls. Planes have had autopilot systems capable of doing basically everything for years, but they still have manual controls. In fact there's a system for delivering things to the ISS that's almost completely automatic, and they still have the ability to override, even though it can do basically everything on its own.

Just look at what the Hindenburg disaster did to the airship industry. A few self driving cars crash or have failures and it could well set the industry back many years. This isn't like a web app that crashes, in this case if things aren't perfect people can easily die.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350881)

The Japanese didn't almost kill them, their over-reliance on SUVs as well as their overproduction is what almost killed them.

How old are you? Back during the Reagan bailout years, no one had every heard the term "SUV". Detroit's products were shit compared to the Japanese brands.

Damn know-it-all young punks these days...

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351077)

They were doing fine in the '90s. Damn punk geezers, the problems that led them to the brink may have started before, but it was their decisions during the '90s that were primarily to blame for the near collapse of the industry later on.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351095)

The Japanese brands were a bit of a nudge towards extinction, but with their poor planning practices it would have happened on its own.

Maybe this is an age thing, but as a mid-40s American I have been trained for decades by experience, into thinking of American cars as being garbage. What trained me to think this? Japanese cars.

I'm not sure it's even true anymore (my wife has less-than-10-year-old American car, and it's ok, though still not as good as a cheap Japanese car), but the prejudice is now well-ingrained.

If it weren't for Honda's and Toyota's excellent cheap cars (I just fucking love the Civic and Corolla), I might think of American cars and normal/average. Japan raised the bar. If America has caught up, I think that's great, but let's not pretend that the past didn't really happen.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

Wansu (846) | about 3 months ago | (#47350981)

This is the Detroit that didn't take Japanese brands seriously until it almost killed them.
And then they blamed the unions.

The Detroit that needed 30+ years to bring a small, efficient, powerful engine to the US.because they knew best what American wanted (big V8s for drag racing).
And in the meanwhile, put whimpy, underpowered straight 6s into full size "body by Fisher" cars and trucks and wondered why their sales fell off a cliff.

The Detroit that hides the fact that Mitsubishi (Chrysler), Toyota (GM) and Mazda (Ford) built their small cars for 20-some years.
The '89 Ford Fiesta was one of the best Mazdas on the road.

I wouldn't trust Detroit to build an autonomous car.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#47350987)

This is the Detroit that didn't take Japanese brands seriously until it almost killed them. The Detroit that needed 30+ years to bring a small, efficient, powerful engine to the US.because they knew best what American wanted (big V8s for drag racing). The Detroit that hides the fact that Mitsubishi (Chrysler), Toyota (GM) and Mazda (Ford) built their small cars for 20-some years. But Google is arrogant. Right.

While Detroit has a long history of missing trends and stupid decisions, I think this may be as much a case of very different POVs and culture crash.

Detroit, coming from a manufacturing POV, is probably asking themselves:

1. What liabilities am I assuming if I do this? How many, and how expensive, lawsuits will result from this?

2. How do I sustain this in terms of support and parts over the life of a vehicle?

3. What will it cost?

Google is coming from a technology POV:

1. We can do all this cool stuff, don't worry if it's all beta we can iron out the bugs as we go.

2. If it doesn't catch on we can kill it and move on.

3. Don't worry about the support infrastructure, that will eventually come about.

As long as each has a different set of needs, wants and POV discussions will be difficult at best.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

NetNed (955141) | about 3 months ago | (#47351209)

Who exactly didn't know this? It was common knowledge that Mazda was 4 cylinder building engines for Ford everywhere in Michigan. Heck they had a plant in Michigan that was a Mazda plant that built only Ford engines for a while. The Numi plant in California was a Toyota/GM(Pontiac) plant till Pontiac ceased to be and that was no secret. I don't recall any of that being "hidden" or misrepresented in any way. It's been out there for a while. If you as a consumer didn't pick up on it or missed it, then that's your deal. You also have it pretty wrong in regards to who "built" the cars. Components of the cars were done by other manufacturers, but final assembly was done by the actual maker of the cars unless you are talking about europe. In the state, even in the Numi plant, Toyota workers built the Toyota and Pontiac workers built the Pontiac.


I think, considering they have been making cars for a LONG time, automakers have all the reason in the world to blow off google. It would be like patient telling a Doctor what technique he should use for an operation.

Re:Detroit calls Google arrogant? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#47351335)

Mitsubishi didn't build all of Chrysler's small cars, just the good ones.

There were a few exceptions, the Shelby turbo Colt for example. Too bad they almost all died, engine computer blows when the O2 sensor goes. Fucking mopars.

I'm pretty sure that GM and Ford built their own small junk too. I would touch ether.

GM got small cars from much farther afield then that, Korea, Germany, Australia and IIRC France (spit). I'm sure I've forgotten someplace. We're luck they never re-badged a Trabant, guess the EPA is good for something. You know they would have, if they could have.

Didn't ford move Maverick (you remember, the upsized Pinto) production to Argentina, where the fools are actually proud of the POS.

It's the Tucker Torpedo all over again (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350485)

I'm only familiar with the dramatized version that was shown in the movie. But Preston Tucker had put in a lot of innovative stuff into his Torpedo [wikipedia.org] cars and the Big 3 in Detroit practically drove him out of business because it was cheaper than trying to catch up. So much that some of his innovations from 1948 took many years, even decades, to become common in cars.

I guess it could also be said they were speaking a different language back then.

I'm guessing Google and Detroit could have disagreed on anything from car features to the actual business model on how they would sell them or, possibly, how they would split the profits. Everyone got along in the first meeting when they didn't talk about that; but then they did and it wasn't pretty.

OR they did talk about it and everyone in the meeting agreed, but then someone else heard the news and asked "but what if ____?" and people on that side backed out.

OR... there can be so many different scenarios here. Google isn't one to be too public about its inner workings, and Detroit is no stranger to keeping secrets.

Re:It's the Tucker Torpedo all over again (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351247)

Detroit has always had problems with change. In the early 70's (yes, I am older but not stupid or dead) when there were increasing demands to improve the performance of the engines to reduce emissions, Detroit refused to change. From an article I read back then, what Detroit needed to do that would be the simplest and least expensive long term change would be to build their engines to tighter tolerances. This would have required retooling their 1940 era engine manufacturing plants to late 1960's capabilities. It would require changes in the way they did things and they would have to make capital investments. Both of those are bad ideas to entrenched manufacturers that are publicly owned as their stock price goes down. So what did they do? The added a pile of marginally functioning external equipment to the engines to reduce emissions. Eventually they had to make the changes to their manufacturing processes because they couldn't add any more junk and get improvements. As proof of this, I owned a '79 Saab that was not built for California as it had no catalytic converter; it exceeded the U.S. auto emissions standards without a catalytic converter which was a California mandatory requirement. The car's power train was just built better.

US car companies have shifted their focus from (1)

mark_reh (2015546) | about 3 months ago | (#47350487)

attempting to make quality products (too hard, expensive) that can be driven to making financial assets that can be sold (easy, cheap). They are now finance companies that happen to make cars. Anything that doesn't enhance their ability to sell packages of auto loans to investors is of little interest. What Google proposes adds cost to the cars without enhancing the ability to sell loans.

US car companies are NOT finance companies (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47350669)

attempting to make quality products (too hard, expensive) that can be driven to making financial assets that can be sold (easy, cheap).

You think so? GM's finance division [wikipedia.org] had net income of $566 million on revenue of $3.34 billion in 2013. GM had net income of $6.9 billion [yahoo.com] on revenue of $155 billion. And you think they are a finance company? Their finance division accounts for 2% of their revenue and 8% of their profit. So no, GM is not a company focused on selling financial products.

How about Ford? Ford Financial had a net LOSS of $1.2 billion [wikipedia.org] on revenues of $7.8 billion in 2012 versus the parent company making a profit of $6.25 billion on revenues of $133 billion over the same period. That means financial products are 5% of their revenue and actually were a drag on profits. So no, Ford isn't a financial company either.

I don't know where you got the idea that these companies are primarily finance companies but you could not be more wrong. Financing is a nice piece of the picture but it's manufacturing and car sales that makes or breaks them. Financing at best just pads the bottom line a bit.

What Google proposes adds cost to the cars without enhancing the ability to sell loans.

What Google is working on is nowhere close to being ready to put in production automobiles. It is a research project and will remain so for some time to come. Just because Google has developed some impressive prototypes doesn't mean it is even close to being something that Ford or GM could put in a car that gets sold to you or me. If Google wants to get into the automobile business they are welcome to try but I think if they do the phrase "shareholder lawsuit" will not be far behind. Just because Google has a bunch of smart people working for them doesn't mean they understand the business of selling cars.

Re:US car companies are NOT finance companies (1)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about 3 months ago | (#47351001)

"Just because Google has a bunch of smart people working for them doesn't mean they understand the business of selling cars."

Just because Tesla has a bunch of smart people working for them doesn't mean they understand the business of selling cars.

hmmmmm.......perhaps you may want to rethink that last part?

Google is not a car company and won't ever be one (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47351153)

Just because Tesla has a bunch of smart people working for them doesn't mean they understand the business of selling cars.

Tesla has a bunch of automobile and manufacturing experts working for them. They didn't just tell a bunch of programmers that tomorrow they were going to start designing axles. Tesla was a new company started from the ground up to be a car company. Google is nothing of the sort and would be foolish to try.

hmmmmm.......perhaps you may want to rethink that last part?

Nope. Tesla and Google are very different companies. The fact that they both have their roots in Silicon Valley is about as close as they get. Cars and advertising/software are two businesses that could not be more different. Furthermore, Tesla is still a very small company in the automotive world. They are doing some of the most interesting stuff in cars but their long term survival is hardly a foregone conclusion.

Re:US car companies are NOT finance companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351283)

You think so? GM's finance division had net income of $566 million on revenue of $3.34 billion in 2013.

Prior to the mortgage crash, GM's finance division (GMAC) advertised heavily on TV. You might even recognize their ads' tagline: "Lost another one to ditech.com"

After the mortgage crash, GM's finance division became Ally bank, mostly by sacrificing their manufacturing hobby in order to suck up enough assets to certify as a bank and get a TARP bailout. I recommend you check Ally's filings to determine what income and revenue they had in 2013.

Not Surprising (1)

organgtool (966989) | about 3 months ago | (#47350531)

Whenever two established giants in different industries require collaboration to bring a new product to market, there is always going to be power struggles and dick-waving. In this case, it is exacerbated by Google's eagerness to go right into full-blown autonomous cars instead of the incremental approach that the car companies want. This make sense since all of the responsibility of any issues that arise in this technology will be placed squarely on the shoulders of the auto makers. In any event, I think Tesla would make a better partner since they're a bolder company who isn't afraid to jump in with both feet.

Until there is Tort reform... (1)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | about 3 months ago | (#47350547)

...there will be no automated car. The legal system is so screwed up right now no company, even one 100 times Google's size, could hope to absorb the lawsuit costs.

Re:Until there is Tort reform... (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 3 months ago | (#47350735)

I disagree. You are assuming that we will have the same number car accidents. The majority of car accidents are caused by human error. Specifically the error of thinking "I am not drunk."

First there will be test runs. When the test runs do not have car accidents, taxi companies will start using them. Be honest, people would rather trust a computer than the kind of guy that drives taxis in NYC.

Then rich people will be getting them for their elderly parents - AND their children (Why sure I will get my alcoholic, drug using reprobate of a child a car - just one they can't drive.).

By then we will have huge records of a huge decrease in accidents by computer. The fact that the computer based cars will have video recordings of the few accidents they do get into, which will for the most part blame the humans in the other car will be the final tipping point

Then suddenly, car insurance rates will drop to almost nothing - if the car is computer controlled. At the same time, car insurance rates for human controlled vehicles will skyrocket.

Finally everyone will get a computer controlled car.

The whole process should take less than ten years from the introduction of the first commercially available 'no need to have a driver's license car', till the majority of new cars sold being computer controlled.

Auto insurance and accident rates (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47351065)

The majority of car accidents are caused by human error.

True.

Specifically the error of thinking "I am not drunk."

Demonstrably false. The majority of auto accidents in no way involve alcohol. That's not to say the number of alcohol related incidents is insignificant but it clearly is not the majority.

First there will be test runs. When the test runs do not have car accidents, taxi companies will start using them.

That is a HUGE assumption. One that is entirely unsubstantiated at this time. You are presuming that automated vehicles can be programmed to navigate real world conditions with zero errors or unexpected conditions or human interference. In the real world accidents will happen simply because there will be times and conditions that the vehicles cannot accommodate for.

Then suddenly, car insurance rates will drop to almost nothing - if the car is computer controlled.

Ha! Let me guess, you aren't an actuary are you? There is more to auto insurance than collision insurance. Even if you are correct and accidents by some miracle dropped to a good approximation of zero, you still have theft, liability, incidental damage, etc. I'm optimistic that computer aided/controlled driving can reduce accidents but enough to cause car insurance rates to drop to "nothing"? Not in my lifetime I think and going by the averages I have a good 40 years or so left.

The whole process should take less than ten years from the introduction of the first commercially available 'no need to have a driver's license car', till the majority of new cars sold being computer controlled.

And which orifice did you pull that "ten years" number from? That's a pretty bold claim and I'm pretty sure you can't back it up. First off the average time people in the US own a car is now almost 11 years [forbes.com] . That's the AVERAGE meaning roughly half keep their cars longer than that. An expensive and unproven new driving technology isn't going to cause a precipitous decline in time of ownership on the second most expensive asset most people own, no matter how much it drops insurance rates.

Find a different partner? (4, Insightful)

nine-times (778537) | about 3 months ago | (#47350565)

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.

The obvious question: (4, Interesting)

Kokuyo (549451) | about 3 months ago | (#47350573)

Why don't Google and Tesla cooperate? Both are very innovative companies that have, more or less, similar attitudes, I think.

Also, wouldn't an all electric car fit the futuristic idea of a self-driving vehicle much better than a gas guzzler?

Re:The obvious question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350793)

Similar attitudes? I dunno, Tesla seems to be building luxury EVs and google want's to turn your car into a self driving spam box since you can focus your attention on ads during your commute time.

That's probably going to be fine for mass marketed cheap crap, but probably not if you are trying to sell 80k+ luxury cars.

Re:The obvious question: (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 3 months ago | (#47350995)

Similar attitudes? I dunno, Tesla seems to be building luxury EVs and google want's to turn your car into a self driving spam box since you can focus your attention on ads during your commute time.

That's probably going to be fine for mass marketed cheap crap, but probably not if you are trying to sell 80k+ luxury cars.

The Ford Model T cost $850 in 1909. The average hourly wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour. That is a luxury price for a car. 5 years later as demand rose and production capacity expanded the price cut in half. The successor to the Model T was the Model A which, almost 20 years later, cost $500. Building luxury cars gets you a brand name, it brings in capital, and it lets you develop and expand production capacity. As your costs go down you can lower prices and expand into more economically priced models.

The obvious question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351099)

Why don't Google and Tesla cooperate? Both are very innovative companies that have, more or less, similar attitudes, I think.

Also, wouldn't an all electric car fit the futuristic idea of a self-driving vehicle much better than a gas guzzler?

You buy the car from Tesla on the internet and it delivers itself to your home?

Who's hungriest? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 3 months ago | (#47350575)

Even assuming that tooling up mass production Just Isn't Doable, because reasons, this seems like Google's game to lose: Google is better at writing software than the automakers are, and all they need is one automaker to crack, admit that their software blows, and start OEMing for Google. The first hit might even be free...

Unless they really manage to alienate people, or stagnate to the point where the incrementalists overtake them, game over, man.

Why doesn't Google just buy one of them? (1)

RelaxedTension (914174) | about 3 months ago | (#47350643)

Problem solved. The others would be scrambling to catch up after that.

Google is an advertising company (1)

sjbe (173966) | about 3 months ago | (#47350789)

Problem solved. The others would be scrambling to catch up after that.

Google is an advertising company that is good at writing software. They have NO special expertise in running a manufacturing company, particularly one the size and complexity of GM or Ford. Furthermore the profit margins on car sales are much lower than Google's core advertising business. Not to mention the company cultures are NOTHING alike. I honestly can't think of anything dumber Google could do with their cash. The level of management distraction alone that this would cause is more than you can possibly imagine.

Manufacturing is NOTHING like writing software. I've done both and I run a manufacturing business as my day job. As smart as the folks at Google are they are not set up to be a manufacturer. It's not in their company DNA and it would kill them if they tried.

Different priorities (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 3 months ago | (#47350645)

Google etc's priority is to create the new market. It's all about innovation and beating the other guy to the market.

The auto industry (the US in particular) priority is not to have a Recall. They are all about playing it safe. That's why Japan got the first practical hybrid.

Re:Different priorities (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350869)

I don't know about you, but I like not dieing in a fiery wreck when I go out for a drive.

Japan got hybrids before the US in large part because hybrids are more practical for typical Japanese people than they are for Americans. Americans don't typically spend as much time in traffic and tend to live further away from their businesses than the Japanese do. What's more, there's large parts of the US where hybrids are difficult to drive because of the weather conditions being tough on batteries.

Google needs Detroit... (1)

Simon Brooke (45012) | about 3 months ago | (#47350693)

Exactly as much as Henry Ford needed horse-buggy makers, and no more.

Re:Google needs Detroit... (1)

Andrio (2580551) | about 3 months ago | (#47351163)

It's going to be fascinating to watch the decline of automakers. Most people don't need or technically want a car, they want need/want the ability to travel quickly from point A to point B. The rest of the time, the car is just sitting there doing nothing.

A fleet of automated cars will solve the automotive needs of the vast majority of people. Car sales will plummet, as well other associated industries: mechanics, automotive stores, oil change places, etc.

It's going to be crazy. The panic we saw from Microsoft when tablets arrived; the music industry when MP3s appeared on the internet; Apple's lawsuit war when Android started outselling it, auto dealers getting Tesla showrooms banned; etc etc. It's all going to be dwarfed by this. I expect to see automakers try everything: mass litigation, lobbying, even widespread propaganda. Anything they can to try and stop the automation of cars.

If they're smart they'll sign long-term agreements now while this tech is still "new." I expect Elon Musk will be be quite victorious in this, chances are it'll be his batteries that will be going into these cars.

Google's intent (1)

rlwhite (219604) | about 3 months ago | (#47350721)

1. Patents on tech that will have consumer demand, which Google can profit from licensing to automotive manufacturers.
2. How will the consumer use new-found free time while captive in a self-driving car? Google's internet services and mobile devices!
3. The navigation needs of a self-driving car will dovetail nicely with the robotics businesses that Google has acquired. Eventually autonomous robots may free up more of your time to enjoy Google and their advertisers' products.

Google + skyTran = WIN! (1)

msc.buff (928148) | about 3 months ago | (#47350729)

Why doesn't Google skip the obsolete car and support skyTran?

http://www.skytran.us/intro/ [skytran.us]

Self driving cars are pointless. They do NOT solve the traffic problem. They do NOT solve the crappy road problem. Hauling a ton of steel & plastic along with a few hundred pounds of flesh from point A to point B is NOT very efficient.

Now, imagine if Google helped build a skyTran network in any major city. A new fiber/power/gas/wifi network could be easily added to the build-out to break the last mile strangle hold.

Re:Google + skyTran = WIN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351277)

A car can go from where I am to where I want to be. Not the "skytran". I guess this thing could replace public transportation (mainly subways) for places where there's not enough passengers to build a big mass transit system, but not cars.

Maybe Shelbyville will be interested?

No different than any other industry (4, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 months ago | (#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 [xkcd.com] .

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.

largely expected, for good reason (4, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about 3 months ago | (#47350743)

Google made a radical change in that it never consulted any automaker during its initial trials with Lexus, Toyoya and Audi vehicles but simply chose to retrofit and augment the existing vehicles with their own technology. It also never sourced an american vehicle in its tests, which may be why among other reasons like competing technologies american automakers didnt take kindly to the event.

to make this a production system, something people can buy in meatspace, google needs a manufacturing partner with automotive chops and recognition from the federal government. safety systems, traction and handling, transmission and engine control systems are all critical components of the vehicle that would take google another 10-12 years to design if they went and did it on their own (just ask tesla.) the ability to strap light radar,software and a 64 laser vision system to the top of a golf cart or existing car is all they have.

Test tracks are one thing, but US and foreign auto makers pace their vehicles through some of the most rigorous and grueling testing imaginable. Lexus uses a multi-million dollar driver simulator to engineer vehicles around a person, and GM owns what amounts to an entire test city for their vehicles. for google thats an incredible asset to be granted access to. Having a team of automotive engineers with a century of experience among them to stand by and say, "that might work in a city, but on a rural route you'll kill your passengers" is what i suspect google really wants. Access to proprietary crash data and performance analytics would let google use any auto manufacturer who consented to the partnership as a step ladder to skip all the monstrously difficult work of designing and manufacturing a car, and what i believe most auto manufacturers are concerned about is seeing the lions share of their efforts go unrewarded, not to mention the decades of autonomics work they themselves pioneered being purloined by a tech giant.

Re:largely expected, for good reason (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351083)

Google has been using self driving cars on actual roads for years.

Telsa is the only hope (1)

denisbergeron (197036) | about 3 months ago | (#47350771)

they should team up with telsa because it's the only American's car maker that will be able to understand where the car industry have to go in a near future.

Who will take the heat? (1)

CrAlt (3208) | about 3 months ago | (#47350831)

When an android phone crashes its no big deal.
When a car crashes people die. You can't just rush a system to market and call it "beta".

I can understand Detroit's reluctance to be the ones stuck holding the bag when these android cars start going all SKYNET and running people down.

Detroit is not interested in innovation (-1, Troll)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 3 months ago | (#47350835)

Detroit would be the wrong place to look for innovation, or interest in new technologies. It has long been captured by the unions, and exists to serve their interests. Look to Japanese or European car companies, and you have a better chance...

Slow Industry (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 3 months ago | (#47350933)

Audio jacks, such as the original 14 in (6.35 mm) version date from as far back as 1878, when it was used for manual telephone exchanges. But I never saw audio jacks included as a standard item with any car stereo until just a few years ago, long after USB ports where being installed on just about every appliance imagined. Fry's still sells devices that make it possible to connect an MP3 player to their car stereo system via an adapter that takes the form of a cassette tape.

I don't follow automotive trends closely as it is such a slow changing and dull industry when you factor out the fashionable aesthetic designs that change from year to year. But to my knowledge cars still don't come with USB ports. How can we get such a slow moving industry to get on board with some seriously disruptive technology, such as autonomous operation?

Re:Slow Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47351295)

My 2011 Chevy Equinox has a USB port, it doesn't take USB drives or interface with the music on my Android phone, but it plays music from my iPod just fine.

This is Two Years Old (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47350969)

Whats happened between 2012 and now, has progress been made since?

Detroit is not always wrong. (1)

sinij (911942) | about 3 months ago | (#47350989)

Traditional car makers (e.g. Detroit 3) are not always wrong and in this case Google should not be simply assumed to be correct. Since I was not part of these meetings, I can only form my opinions based on what was reported. Still, there are some things that concern me with Google/Tesla approach to autos:

* Unwillingness to finalize the product is part of Silicon culture. When I buy a car, I expect final product with very rare instance of patching (e.g. recalls) and no instances of altered or added functionality. The fact that when you buy Tesla you are subjected to "patch Tuesday" tinkering greatly worries me.
* No defined model years. With traditional cars you usually know that parts from years X-Y models A-Z are interchangeable. Not so much with Tesla - where mid-model changes are commonplace. What going to happen when 10+ year old Tesla needs a new part? Always buy new, because no two of them are ever the same?
* Used car market. For electric cars it doesn't exists. This means that depreciation on these is largely unknown.

GM CEO hearings (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 3 months ago | (#47350999)

...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.

All one has to do is watch the GM CEO testifying in the Congressional hearings, and read the reports about GM's safety failures, to see the arrogance is not with google, but with Detroit. The folks in Michigan are afraid of google in the same manner that auto dealerships are afraid of Tesla's direct sales. The current, cozy, entrenched business interests are going to be upset for the benefit of the consumer.

Too bad. (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 3 months ago | (#47351111)

This is not a surprise. Detroit makes it's money from marketing cars that are: a)"fun to drive" b)"tough" c)"stylish" d)"pretentious or class-conscious" e)some combination of the above. Safety, functionality, and reliability are boring (didn't Lee Iacocca once say, "safety doesn't sell"?).

This is unfortunate, because I think Detroit is missing out on a great opportunity. Somebody, somewhere is going to start making autonomous cars, and people will start buying them. Detroit will find itself playing catch-up, or get relegated to irrelevancy.

Personally, I think if autonomous cars can be proven to be safe and reliable, there will be a virtual tsunami of adoption by the buying public.

Who they should be partnering with... (1)

See Attached (1269764) | about 3 months ago | (#47351113)

Hate to say it, but the autonomous vehicle folks should seriously confer with the legal profession to ensure that the devices that they make / retrofit will be not fully depleted by the gamers that love to make money off folks with deep pocketses. The number of DWI's will decrease, and the number of sleepy driver issues should fall.There will be some considerations, as the responsible party shifts from John Doe to the Corporate Programmer.
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