Google and Ford tie up in non-exclusive pact to build self-driving cars

“Google and Ford will create a joint venture to build self-driving vehicles with Google’s technology, a huge step by both companies toward a new business of automated ride sharing, Yahoo Autos has learned.” Justin Hyde and Sharon Carty report for Yahoo Autos. “According to three sources familiar with the plans, the partnership is set to be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.”

“By pairing with Google, Ford gets a massive boost in self-driving software development,” Hyde and Carty report. “By pairing with Ford, the search-engine giant avoids spending billions of dollars and several years that building its own automotive manufacturing expertise would require. Earlier this year, Google co-founder Sergey Brin said the company was looking for manufacturing partners that would use the company’s self-driving system, which it believes could someday eliminate the roughly 33,000 annual deaths on U.S. roads.”

“While exact details of the partnership were unclear, it’s understood the venture would be legally separate from Ford, in part to shield the automaker from liability concerns. Questions of who will be responsible for any crashes involving self-driving cars have been seen as a major hurdle to putting them on the road; earlier this year, Volvo said it would accept responsibility for crashes in autonomous mode, a pledge followed by Google and Mercedes-Benz,” Hyde and Carty report. “The deal is understood to be non-exclusive; Google has been talking to several other automakers for some time about using its self-driving systems. Most major automakers and several auto parts suppliers are developing their own self-driving controls as well, with a few—Nissan, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz among them—promising advanced vehicles for customer sales by 2020. ”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yeah, we’ll pass on that Forgle, thanks.

18 Comments

    1. Agreed, which is too bad. I kinda like Ford, I admire how they didn’t accept government bailout money. I like the styling of their new cars (but not the butt ugly trucks.) However these developments are deal breakers for me.

  1. I still haven’t figured out how self driving cards will work other than on a closed track at Disneyland when you have 100 million plus cars that have no such capability a lot of which are being driven by inattentive drivers texting, speeding, drinking, etc. Same as I can’t figure out the economics of drone delivery when a drone with a 25 min endurance and 6 oz payload costs over $700. Guess I better sell my Apple, they didn’t sign up with Fix Or Repair Daily Motors.

    1. Much like a modern autopilot can land an airplane more accurately and precisely than an average airline pilot. While there are zillions of parameters in play, the number is finite and with enough processing power, all of them can be accounted for. Most importantly, in such a situation, a computer may be faster at making correct decisions than a human. Accidents in cars happen today when humans make mistakes (by not reacting quickly enough, or when reacting incorrectly). With the access to the same visual clues that humans have, but with clearer and more precise focus, a computer may well be more accurate and reliable at estimating if that ball bouncing from the front yard onto the street would end up under your car, or if the kid running after it would meet the grill of your engine…

      For very many things, computers have proven themselves as making correct decisions more quickly and more accurately than humans, and for obvious reasons. Humans are required to process massive amount of irrelevant information while trying to focus on the important data. Computers don’t get easily distracted; well-written code will accurately focus on the relevant data set in the most efficient way.

      I can easily see extremely reliable self-driving vehicles in the near future.

      Another problem altogether is the litigious nature of our (especially American) society. When the first fatality is caused by a self-driving vehicle (regardless of circumstances), the lawsuit and the resulting damages against the car maker will effectively eliminate all the successes of the project.

      1. The scenario you’re presenting is decades away technologically and predicated on government-mandated autonomous vehicles, which I hope will never happen. A far larger problem than those you present is the sheep-like behavior of people in allowing their freedom of movement to be stripped away in the name of “safety” and “progress”. F that.

      2. the catch in your argument is “well written code”. i have yet to see much of that. the other problem is the assumption in the computer science community that lines of code is (at least) proportional to actual or assumed difficulty. if you think it is hard to get bugs out of operating systems, just wait until the apearance of operationally realistic self-driving code. also, a computer still needs to filter out the irrelevant details. this is not as easy as you imply. i will predict that a lot of the real world bugs that appear will be traced back to faulty filtering of a detail that is not actually irrelevant.

        1. You are absolutely right of course. Code for aircraft auto pilots for example take years and years of testing to the point it is almost ancient by the time it is actually used so as to try to include every possible situation and filter out every possible glitch. Yet we find the latest operational crash in Malaysia was directly related to a fault developing in that system and the pilots thereafter being incapable of dealing with it even in a planned manner. Yet though it sounds a little confer intuitive initially flying an aircraft is far easier than driving a car on our public roads. Im sure that 95% of the time we can expect the software/hardware combination to do a better job than the average driver but that 5% even much less than 1% would represent millions of potentially dangerous incidents. Its within this area where human intuition and experience will prevail in ways that a computerised system for the foreseeable future cannot. I guess the big question will be whether the estimated lives/injuries saved in that computer superior percentage will be balanced against the same caused by its actual computer responsible percentage. Somehow as others have alluded to its difficult to see litigation looking towards the overall greater good that some will claim for this technology against those who have lost their lives or have serious injuries as a result of it. This of course is only exacerbated by the fact it will be difficult to imagine a testing/maintenance regime anywhere near that followed on aircraft or other similar high profile transport on your average car without inherent costs that would threaten the whole concept.

      3. Well written post. It will be hard to argue that autonomous vehicles will not save lives because the majority of crashes occur because of driver inattention or the driver simply made a bad decision under certain conditions.

        But key to its autonomous vehicle success will be how shut down scenarios are handled. No amount of programming is going to be able to predict every possible scenario. In these rare cases the computer must alert the driver, who may or may not be prepared to take control of the vehicle. If the driver fails to take control the computer must figure out how to bring the vehicle to a safe stop. That could present a challenge on a highway filled with other vehicles traveling at speed, especially if an accident is in progress 500 feet ahead and you want to avoid colliding with vehicles flying in all directions.

        System redundancy will be a requirement. If the computer itself fails and the driver is unprepared to take immediate control a backup system with its own power source must kick in. As a final fail safe a dumb braking system might have to kick in if all computer control is lost.

        All these are fringe scenarios. But they must be addressed.

  2. While I’m not really interested in a self driving car, I must say I have been really impressed with my 2015 Ford Edge.

    Works well with my iPhone
    Quiet
    Very good mileage – 28 overall
    Excellent acceleration
    Nice safety features – maybe that is where this agreement will have an impact.

  3. Not so keen on autopilot, but my money – literally- is on Tesla. As a shareholder.
    BTW, SpaceX landed the first stage of a Falcon 9 that launched 11 satellites. Elon Musk should be invited to be on the Apple Board.

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