Google is intending to design and develop its own self-driving cars after being brushed off by the major car companies, according to reports.
The company, which made its name with its search engine, has held talks with a number of manufacturers to build cars to Google’s specifications — a bit like the company’s early approach to Android.
But the talks failed to yield a deal, so Google is planning to build the vehicles itself instead — a bit like its more recent approach to laptops with Chromebooks.
Google is considering selling its cars to individuals, but is also mulling a “robo-taxi” service that picks passengers up on-demand and delivers them to their destination. The idea, according to former Wall St Journal reporter Amir Efrati quoting an anonymous source, is to pressure the major car companies into embracing self-driving technology.
Such taxis would initially, for safety, include someone sitting behind the wheel in case of emergencies. But longer-term that may no longer be the case.
The challenge will be commercialising the project. Google will need to make a distribution deal with a car company that has existing dealer relationships. Plus they’ll be expensive — its existing fleet of Toyota hybrids cost $150,000 (£96,000) each.
Finally, it’ll need to clear regulatory hurdles. Many countries and US states have no legislation covering autonomous vehicles on public roads.