Autonomous vehicles will get a tremendous push thanks to an alliance between Ford and Google, the automaker and tech company will announce at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show. The report comes from Yahoo! Autos, which cited three sources familiar with the negotiations.
The alliance pushes both companies to the front line in the rapid development of self-driving cars. Ford’s work on autonomous vehicles made headlines last month when it helped break in the University of Michigan’s MCity autonomous car test site. The company is also on pace to begin testing self-driving vehicles in California next year, a fact that will no doubt be helped by its partnership with Mountain View, CA-based Google.
Google stands to make the biggest gains in this alliance, though. The company already lured former Hyundai exec, long-time Ford employee, and industry veteran John Krafick in September to head up its autonomous vehicle projects. While Krafcik brings extensive automotive production knowledge, Google’s partnership with Ford will save the tech company billions in manufacturing development, according to Yahoo.
The announcement has been in the works for a long time, one source told Yahoo. Google refused to comment on a similar report in Automotive News, while Ford was ambiguous in saying the Blue Oval partners with a number of tech firms, a fact that was reemphasized to Autoblog.
“We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan,” Ford told Autoblog. “We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation.”
While details of the deal aren’t available yet Yahoo! reports that this is not an exclusive agreement. That fits with Google boss Sergey Brin’s desire to bring autonomous tech to as many drivers as possible.
Google’s “focus has shifted to looking for OEM partners to deploy the technology, rather than considering building their own vehicles,” Gartner Inc., analyst Thilo Koslowski told Automotive News. “That makes sense. If Google is interested in bringing the benefit of the technology to consumers, then they need as many partners as possible.”
Ford’s CES press conference is January 5 in Las Vegas.