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Google Plans Self-Driving Taxis for 2016

Google will launch its self-driving car initiative as a separate business, offering rides for hire in direct competition with firms such as Uber, under parent company Alphabet Inc next year, according to Bloomberg Business.

An anonymous source briefed on Google’s self-driving car strategy claims that, initially, the vehicles will not be sold, but instead will be available for hire to customers during the day, returning to Google depots for service and maintenance at night.

“These potential ride-for-hire services could allow consumers to experience the technology and embrace it in a bigger way,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner Inc.. “That would help not just Google but the entire industry.”

Self-driving cars that don’t require a human driver are not yet legal on public roads in the US, so unless Google has inside information regarding an imminent change to the law, its vehicles will only be permitted for use on private property, such as university and business campuses, military bases, or airports.

While Google waits for the law to catch up with new automotive technologies, Uber has invested over $10 billion it has raised in private markets to develop its own fleet of self-driving cars, as well as recruiting a number of autonomous vehicle engineers from Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics program.

Image courtesy of Google.

Ashley Allen

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