Google goes head-to-head with Tesla, prepares for mass production of self-driving cars

Glen White
- Technology - Jan 14, 2015

Google Inc. has revealed that its self-driving car will be ready by 2020 and has confirmed that it is already in talks with major automotive manufacturers as it prepares for mass production.

In an interview with Reuters, Chris Urmson, project director for Google’s self-driving car project, said the Internet giant is working with traditional auto suppliers as well as tech-based hardware companies to get the job done.

Potentially spurred on by competition from the likes of Mercedes and Audi, Google has decided to ramp up efforts to ensure its autonomous car is the first to market.

According to reports, Google hasn’t decided whether it will manufacture the self-driving car itself or sell software and systems to traditional manufacturers such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. Urmson said Google was in talks with all five about production proposals.

Roush, a specialty manufacturer in Detroit, built Google’s latest autonomous vehicles. The compact, pod-like prototypes have a very distinct and futuristic appearance, however Urmson told Reuters the design probably would evolve as the project moves forward.

A fleet of Google’s self-driving cars will soon be deployed without steering wheels or pedals, he said. Continental AG, Robert Bosch, LG Electronics and Nvidia Corp. are all developing parts and systems along with Google.

So when will we start seeing these cars on the road? Urmson’s timeline for when Google’s self-driving car will be widely available aligns with that of Tesla Motors’ CEO Elon Musk, but the two dispute who will be first to sell one, and whether legislating rules for the technology will be a major impediment to its adoption.

Musk vows that his electric car manufacturer will be the first to market, but said a lack of federal regulations could delay them until 2023. Urmson told Reuters that Google does not “see any particular regulatory hurdles” and cited 2020 as its launch data. The race is on! 

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