Report: Google and Ford May Enter Autonomous-Car Partnership

Google’s self-driving tech plus Ford’s production-car know-how.

Who will build Google's self-driving cars? According to reports from Automotive News and Yahoo Autos, Ford might be throwing its hat into the ring.

Ford and Google are reportedly in talks to form a joint venture to build self-driving cars. This partnership could be part of Google's recent announcement that it would spin off its self-driving car division into a separate company under the Alphabet corporate umbrella, meaning that this business unit would be separate from Ford as well. This would help protect the automaker from liability concerns associated with autonomous cars. It also could mean that the partnership is not an exclusive one, as creating a separate unit would allow Google to possibly pair up with other automakers for help as well.

The idea is that Ford would supply production-ready vehicles to support Google's own self-driving car software. Recent regulations passed by the California DMV raised more obstacles for Google's development of its own autonomous car prototypes (built by Roush, a supplier closely associated with Ford), as the company had to retrofit steering wheels and pedals to meet testing permit rules for self-driving cars. Google previously tested its autonomous car technology in Lexus RX crossovers.

It's unclear whether Ford would help Google build a stand-alone autonomous car, or whether the partnership would entail fitting existing Ford vehicles with Google's software. We do know that Google's plans for its new autonomous car division include a ride-sharing service intended to compete with Uber, and Ford recently announced investment into what it calls "smart mobility" technologies like ride-sharing and car-sharing. Ford also announced a big investment in electric vehicle technology, which could play a part in this partnership as well.

The rumor is that Ford and Google may make an announcement as soon as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in a few weeks in Las Vegas. Stay tuned for more news on this potential partnership in the meantime.

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