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Ford and Google 'to partner on driverless cars': an explainer

Published: 23 December 2015

► Google and Ford in talks
► Partnership on autonomous cars?
► What it all means

Search giant Google and Ford are in advanced talks to collaborate on autonomous cars, it has emerged.

Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that discussions have been underway for months and could result in the Blue Oval building driverless cars for Google.

Why does Google need help building cars?

It's not as easy as it looks manufacturing vehicles - especially not for a company whose expertise lies in the digital space and which has little experience in building physical objects. Ford, by contast, has been doing it for more than a century and boasts plenty of factory capacity and a strong supplier network. Google has planned from the off to partner with existing car makers to realise its driverless ambitions.

How do we know Ford and Google are in advanced talks?

Ford CEO Mark Fields met Google founder Sergey Brin in California earlier in December 2015, it has emerged. Although both companies declined to comment on the talks, the reality is that the search giant is likely talking to most major car manufacturers. Don't forget that former Blue Oval boss Alan Mulally is now a director at Google and a number of ex-Ford execs and engineers have been poached by the Moutain View-based digital specialist.

What's in it for Ford?

In return for lending its car making expertise and industrial footprint, Ford can expect to access the wealth of data Google has been amassing during its autonomous car pilot project. Its fleet of driverless vehicles have been testing on public roads in the Silicon Valley area for the past year and with more than 1.3 million miles under their belts its technology, data and software will be invaluable for any business wanting to make headway in this growing sector.

When could the news be made public?

Word is, the two American giants may go public at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2016. Shares in Ford rose by 3.4% on news of the potential partnership with Ford.

Click here to find out how many times Google's driverless cars have crashed in testing.

The Google autonomous car pilot (Getty Images)

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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