As we reported last week, signs point to the very real possibility of an imminent Ford-Google partnership to design and build an autonomous self-driving car. Many expect an official announcement to come from Ford Motor Company sometime in January, perhaps ahead of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.
What’s been covered pretty thoroughly so far is how this self-driving car joint-venture could prove advantageous for Google. What hasn’t been explained quite so thoroughly yet is how it stands to benefit Ford Motor Company.
According to Automotive News, a Ford-Google self-driving car partnership could be enough to put Ford Motor Company “out front in the race” to bring autonomous technology to market. AN expects Ford to furnish Google with a clean-sheet design, engineered from the ground-up to house the myriad LIDAR (LIght Detection And Ranging) and RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) sensors, cameras, computers, and electronics necessary for autonomous operation. The result would be a self-driving car that, ideally, looks perfectly ordinary – one that would have no trouble at all being warmly accepted by a choosy public.
Of course, more importantly, Ford might also be granted access to Google’s self-driving car technology, which could obviously help improve the company’s own autonomous hardware and software. Tesla Motors has already rolled out its proprietary Autopilot feature on the Model S sedan, and AN reports that Cadillac is just a year or so out from launching its own Super Cruise system on the flagship CT6. At the same time, Audi has been anything but secretive about its own triumphs with experimental self-driving car technologies, and automakers from Germany and Japan alike are racing to keep up.
But Google is undeniably ahead of most in the race to an autonomous future; the tech company operates a fleet of some 53 self-driving car prototypes on the road in California and Texas. With Google’s expertise breathing fresh wind into Ford’s sails, the automaker could conceivably rush to the front of the pack.