Tip of the Week

Google and Ford are reportedly embarking on a joint venture to develop and build the autonomous cars of the future. It’s potentially a winning situation for both Ford and Google, but has not been officially announced.

Ford will benefit from access to Google’s self-driving software systems. They only just announced plans to start testing their own systems on public roads in California. Google is way ahead with 53 vehicles already on the street. They’ve also logged 1.3 million autonomous miles so their software has had plenty of time for debugging.

For Google’s part, they will benefit from Ford’s manufacturing expertise. Without an automotive partner, Google would have to spend a huge amount of cash figuring out manufacturing on their own. Ford’s expertise in this area will help speed development significantly and get autonomous cars on the road that much faster.

It’s believed that Ford will be legally separating this from the rest of its corporate activities. This stems from concerns about liability that they don’t want coming back at the rest of the company should there be any issues.

The liability issue is a tricky one for all manufacturers developing autonomous cars. Some have already stepped up and said they’ll take the blame. Volvo, Google and Mercedes-Benz have all stated that they will take responsibility for any crashes their vehicles are involved in while in autonomous mode. Ford has made no such statement.

This might be the first automaker Google partners with, but it likely will not be the last. The deal is non-exclusive so both parties are free to work with whoever they choose.

Google has been talking to automakers for awhile about having their self-driving systems in other company’s cars. Most are developing their own systems, but promises of having autonomous cars on the road by 2020 could have some of them turning back to Google.

Ford and Google were linked even ahead of this partnership. John Krafcik, head of Google’s self-driving car project, worked at Ford for 14 years and former Ford CEO Alan Mulally joined Google’s board last year. There are several other former Ford employees on the Google payroll these days to make things even further entwined.

If successful, it’s a partnership that could make our self-driving future a reality sooner rather than later.

- BestRide

Auto news

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announce a recall of certain 2003-2005 Ford Crown Victoria and Mercury Grand Marquis vehicles manufactured from Oct. 3, 2001 through Aug. 2, 2005. About 296,000 vehicles are expected for inclusion in this recall campaign. For more information, visit nhtsa.gov.

Car stats

After collecting data from its fleet of autonomous-drive test cars for more than a year, Google reported that here have been 272 situations where the Google car disengaged from autonomous-drive mode and immediately turned over control of the car to the employee in the driver’s seat. On average, Google said the driver took control of the car in 0.83 seconds.

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