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Ford’s Don Butler Dismisses Google Self-Driving Car Partnership

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At last month’s Consumer Electronics Show, Venture Beat had the opportunity to catch up with Ford’s Executive Director of Connected Vehicles and Services Don Butler, asking all about the automaker’s electrified powertrain and self-driving car efforts.

Obviously, this warranted mentioning of the recent rumors of a Ford-Google self-driving car partnership.

When asked, Mr. Butler laughed at the rumor, saying that he’s “not sure why [the press would] have that opinion. We work with a number of partners, as our CEO has described, underneath this umbrella we call Fort Smart Mobility.” But Smart Mobility is a broad initiative with a lot of different components; Ford’s partners tend to have more to do with delivering services (parking, ride-sharing, etc.) than with contributing to the automaker’s self-driving car technology.

“What we’re doing with Amazon is a good example,” offered Mr. Butler. “Amazon, the Eco device, and the Alexa cloud platform, they’re already in the home, in many homes…. Rather than us stitching together that network, why don’t we partner with someone who already is putting that network together and create a way of seamlessly interacting with them?”

On the other hand, Ford Motor Company is already toward the front of the pack in terms of developing its self-driving car technology for mass consumption. “We’ve been working on that for more than a decade,” said Don Butler. “It’s not as if we need a partner to come help us. We are open to working with partners together to create autonomous vehicles, but it’s not a situation where we become a contract manufacturer for someone.”

In other words, that rumored Ford-Google self-driving car partnership? We’re going to go ahead and label that one “debunked.”

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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  1. Driving has always been a defensive art. Driving requires quick and correct reactions to the irrational behavior, stupidity, carelessness, and distraction of other drivers. How do you program a driverless car to react rationally to the infinitely irrational behavior of the other human drivers on the road?

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