One of the biggest event that did not happen at the just concluded Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the highly anticipated announcement by Ford motors and Google. The news that got everybody excited was that the two giants would form a Ford-Google partnership in the development the self-driving or autonomous car. The announcement did not take place. So many people were left disappointed.
A partnership between Google and Ford is clearly a match made in technology heaven. Two giants in their respective fields coming together for the good of mankind. But mostly for the good of their respective balance sheets.
What could be more logical than two of the biggest players in the development of the self-driving car polling resources together to achieve a single goal? Many would have predicted something like this happening. After all, Ford announced recently that it is trying out its own self-driving cars in snowy conditions. A positive outcome in the trials would be a giant step for the autonomous car.
Google on the other hand started testing its driver-less cars several months ago. And for the first time took the car out of the simulated environment of its headquarters in California to the streets of Austin in Texas. So far, according to reports, the Google self-driving cars have being doing pretty well with only a few reports of accidents. All of the accidents were purportedly caused by human errors from other cars. And the test results from driving the autonomous cars in rainy and wet conditions are also positive.
So how would a Ford-Google partnership work? Would Google provide the software while Ford concentrate on building a formidable frame for the car? Just like how most personal computer companies make PCs while partnering with Microsoft to provide the Windows operating system of the products.
It makes a lot of sense for the partnership to be like that. Ford already have the automotive manufacturing plants. So for Google, it saves them billions of dollars required to build their own plant and the tedious process of hiring competent and experience engineers to man the plants. It also saves them the time that would be lost before the plants are finished. We are talking about years here.
For Ford, they can leverage on Google’s massive financial muscle. What Google can bring to the partnership is impressive. Google is far ahead of anyone in the development of the autonomous car. Also, Google commits huge amounts of resources to making sure its research facilities are the best in the world. And the scientists at Google (strutting their stuff in the semi-secret Google X), who are paid handsomely to do amazing things, can come in handy in developing cutting-edge technology for the self-driving car.
The world hopes the lack of any announcement about the proposed partnership does not signify the end of the Ford-Google partnership. This is the right time for something like this to happen. Americans are once more enthused about cars after the near collapse of the industry about eight years ago. And the past couple of years has seen the merging of so much consumer technology into cars. The stars see perfectly aligned for something like this to flourish. In the name of all things innovative, this partnership could be the start of something massive for the tech world, not just the self-driving car.