Google partners with car makers to develop its autonomous car

Published: 16 January 2015

Google is seeking to partner with major car makers and component giants in a bid to bring its self-driving car to market, probably by the end of the decade.

The head of the project, Chris Urmson, revealed some new details on the autonomous Google car at this week’s Automotive News World Congress.

Companies the search giant is talking to include GM, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and VW, according to news agency Reuters. Google has so far not named any car makers, but admitted it is approaching companies with established reputations with expertise in building vehicles for commercial sale.

‘At some point, we’re going to be looking to find partners to build complete vehicles, and bring the technology to market,’ Urmson told the conference.

But first it will rely on smaller experts to develop and produce the prototypes which will continue to be tested for the next five years. Click here for 10 things you might not know about the Google car.

Google autonomous car on test

Urmson said that US engineering consultancy Roush has built the current prototypes pictured; they will start trials on public roads in 2015.

Other suppliers working with Google have been named as Bosch (lidar radar systems, power electronics governing the EV system), LG Electronics (batteries) and ZF (steering).

It is also working with component giant Continental on various parts of the autonomous car.

When can I buy a Google car?

Ah, the $64 million question. Just look at this week’s news on the delayed Google Glass and you’ll realise that the Californian digital firm doesn’t like to rush new projects to market before they’re competitive.

Urmson, when quizzed about a launch date, would only say ‘when it’s safe and ready.’

Cars used in the US trials will have a discrete steering wheel and pedals, owing to Californian regulations, and they must have a test driver behind the wheel when running in autonomous mode as a failsafe.

By Tim Pollard

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