Alphabet joins Apple in scaling back self-driving car plans, could launch ridehailing service by en

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
In a decision drawing parallels with Apple, Alphabet is reportedly ratcheting down its goals for self-driving cars, scrapping plans to build a vehicle without pedals or a steering wheel -- at least for the foreseeable future. [Updated with Alphabet's Waymo spinoff announcement]




Instead Alphabet will be partnering with existing automakers on a model with a conventional cockpit, sources told The Information. The decision was reportedly made by CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat, who came to the conclusion that ditching a steering wheel and pedals would be impractical -- likely because U.S. regulatory guidelines still insist on them.

Page is, however, claimed to be spinning the self-driving division -- known as Chauffeur -- out of Google X into a separate company to be announced soon. The heads of Chauffeur are said to be considering launching a commercial ridehailing service with self-driving vehicles by the end of 2017, joining an arena Uber has already been experimenting with.

Prospects for a commercial Chauffeur service are said to depend on the performance of the modified Chrysler Pacifica minivans the company may already be testing. If they succeed, production could be increased into hundreds of vehicles, forming the basis for a ridehailing fleet.

The Information's sources suggest that such a service probably wouldn't launch in California, which is seen as having too many regulatory limits. Two possibilities are thought to include Austin, Tex. and Phoenix, Ariz., both places where Chauffeur has tested self-driving cars.

Representatives have supposedly talked to existing ridesharing companies like Lyft about integrating a Chauffeur fleet, but Chauffeur is still said to prefer its own network, or at least direct interaction with riders.

The unit's new dirction is said to be counter to the hopes of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who wanted working on a wheel-free cockpit to continue. In fact a number of people have reportedly left Chauffeur in past year, though at least some of them because they thought Google wasn't moving quickly enough towards a commercial product.

Chauffeur has allegedly considered ways of making its technology available in individually-sold cars, but that may not be as profitable as ridehailing.

Recent reports have indicated that Apple has temporarily dropped efforts to design its own car, shifting focus to an underlying self-driving platform. The company is expected to pick a new direction in late 2017, either resuming work on its own design or partnering with an existing automaker.




Update: Alphabet on Tuesday officially spun off its self-driving unit into Waymo, a separate company under former Chauffeur head John Krafcik. The company will have access to Alphabet resources and infrastructure, and Krafcik said he envisioned Alphabet using its technology for "the ridesharing business, trucking, logistics, even personally used vehicles and licensing with automakers."
aaarrrgggh
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 21
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 259member
    So, having heard for years Google is more innovative (like Glass and the development of a self-driving car), in the end they "follow Apple"  ;)
    edited December 2016 Soli[Deleted User]smiffy31Rayz2016jbdragonDeelronai46brucemcleviStrangeDays
  • Reply 2 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,792member
    Google is far from innovative. I don't know where all of these experts get this from. What have they don't lately that use useful? What have they done in the past 5-6yrs that is still here today? Most of the stuff they develop, they drop. I would never use anything Google not only because of privacy issues, but also the lack of support. The only things they've really kept so far is gmail, Android, CrapOS...I mean ChromeOS, and Google Apps (Sheets, Slides, Classroom, etc). As I've said before, all they do is throw shit at the wall and see if it sticks, and then even if it does stick they sometimes still drop it entirely. 

    People just hear Google is coming out with this or that on the news and they just associate this with innovation. Of course the news never says anything about all the stuff they've came out with throughout the years that they've dropped. 
    edited December 2016 patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 21
    JanNLJanNL Posts: 259member
    macxpress said:

    People just hear Google is coming out with this or that on the news and they just associate this with innovation. Of course the news never says anything about all the stuff they've came out with throughout the years that they've dropped. 
    Agree! Wasn't serious about Google being innovative...
    But a lot off media/analysts were serious about the Google car and that's why this report is making me smile.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,293member
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know".

    So this particular piece of reporting, which remember is a rumor like many others, has to do with the way Google envisioned self-driving vehicle cockpits. If true they are demurring to the conventional auto makers and their current drive-space designs instead of insisting that driver intervention be avoided. I get why they'd believe that allowing a human driver to interfere with autonomous driving would potentially make the entire platform more dangerous and unpredictable, but drivers aren't (yet) ready to accept truly hands-off highway transport.

    IMHO the best way forward if they want to get there eventually is ease into it with steering wheels for driver override if that's what makes folks feel more comfortable about it. For the sake of overall safety tho I think it's inevitable that hands-off will have to be the rule at some future point. Mixing unpredictable and easily distracted human drivers with truly autonomous vehicles in constant communication with other vehicles around them to prevent accidental contact is a disaster waiting to happen
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 5 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,293member
    jannl said:
    macxpress said:

    People just hear Google is coming out with this or that on the news and they just associate this with innovation. Of course the news never says anything about all the stuff they've came out with throughout the years that they've dropped. 
    Agree! Wasn't serious about Google being innovative...
    But a lot off media/analysts were serious about the Google car and that's why this report is making me smile.
    The media may have been serious about a "Google car" but if they had listened to Google themselves they would have known Google had no intention of building cars. For at least a couple of years now they've indicated their most immediate interest is Uber-like ride-sharing using relatively traditional car company supplied vehicles but driven by Google's self-driving software. There's no rumors that there's been any change in those plans, this most recent rumor included. 
    edited December 2016 singularity
  • Reply 6 of 21
    wigbywigby Posts: 688member
    jannl said:
    macxpress said:

    People just hear Google is coming out with this or that on the news and they just associate this with innovation. Of course the news never says anything about all the stuff they've came out with throughout the years that they've dropped. 
    Agree! Wasn't serious about Google being innovative...
    But a lot off media/analysts were serious about the Google car and that's why this report is making me smile.
    Really? I never read a single analyst that actually thought there would be a Google branded car. Everyone knew Google would move to the operating system. The only surprise were the rumors that Apple decided the same thing. Still not sure why this is a story.
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 7 of 21
    MRsneezy1979MRsneezy1979 Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    I am sure all these companies are dropping this as Tesla have already got self driving cars. And tesla will give it away for free so why bother competing and spending money on rnd
  • Reply 8 of 21
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,041member
    jannl said:
    So, having heard for years Google is more innovative (like Glass and the development of a self-driving car), in the end they "follow Apple"  ;)
    Google likes to throw out crap that's not ready for prime time and then later cancel it or down scale it. At that point, no big deal, it's the WOW factor announcement that gets everyone's attention. Like they're somehow leading. Apple does their thing behind closed doors and won't announce anything until they have a product to sell. Apple has never said anything about self driving cars one way or another. Really all we have are rumors. How much of any of it is true, I have no idea. I really just don't worry about it. What I hate more is announcing a product, showing it off, and it doesn't get released for a year, and when it does, it's not the same thing exactly, or it never ends up being sold at all. More vaporware!!! I'm not at all surprised what Google is doing here either. It's the norm for them, but it works for them in publicity.
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,293member
    jbdragon said:
    jannl said:
    So, having heard for years Google is more innovative (like Glass and the development of a self-driving car), in the end they "follow Apple" 
    Google likes to throw out crap that's not ready for prime time and then later cancel it or down scale it. At that point, no big deal, it's the WOW factor announcement that gets everyone's attention. Like they're somehow leading. Apple does their thing behind closed doors and won't announce anything until they have a product to sell. Apple has never said anything about self driving cars one way or another. Really all we have are rumors. How much of any of it is true, I have no idea. I really just don't worry about it. What I hate more is announcing a product, showing it off, and it doesn't get released for a year, and when it does, it's not the same thing exactly, or it never ends up being sold at all. More vaporware!!! I'm not at all surprised what Google is doing here either. It's the norm for them, but it works for them in publicity.
    Wait, I thought this was a rumor too, like the one's about an Apple car? 
    edited December 2016
  • Reply 10 of 21
    gatorguy said:
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know".

    So this particular piece of reporting, which remember is a rumor like many others, has to do with the way Google envisioned self-driving vehicle cockpits. If true they are demurring to the conventional auto makers and their current drive-space designs instead of insisting that driver intervention be avoided. I get why they'd believe that allowing a human driver to interfere with autonomous driving would potentially make the entire platform more dangerous and unpredictable, but drivers aren't (yet) ready to accept truly hands-off highway transport.

    IMHO the best way forward if they want to get there eventually is ease into it with steering wheels for driver override if that's what makes folks feel more comfortable about it. For the sake of overall safety tho I think it's inevitable that hands-off will have to be the rule at some future point. Mixing unpredictable and easily distracted human drivers with truly autonomous vehicles in constant communication with other vehicles around them to prevent accidental contact is a disaster waiting to happen
    Agreed, but what I thought Apple might do is to make the care make all the critical thinking and calculations, where the driver just basically points the steering wheel to indicate a general intention and the car takes that input and make immense mathematically perfect determinations incorporating large sets of data from the current environment through the vehicle's sensors and execute the best possible trajectory of the move, overtaking, parking, tricky corners, reversing, you don't have to figure how anymore, carOS dose it all for you, this would remove the need for people to constantly be alert and making critical decisions that require training and conditioning, the loss of which can be fatal, then an Apple car could be driven by any person whether or not they've even set on a car before because all you do is point the round thingi to where you want to go, like a video game, couldn't be more simple, could be brilliant, and very Apple,
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 21
    Most existing automakers will not want to partner on self-driving with tech companies like and will prefer to brew their own technology.

    I predict that Apple will buy Tesla in 2017 and take it into some radically new profitable directions.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 21
    gatorguy said:
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know".

    So this particular piece of reporting, which remember is a rumor like many others, has to do with the way Google envisioned self-driving vehicle cockpits. If true they are demurring to the conventional auto makers and their current drive-space designs instead of insisting that driver intervention be avoided. I get why they'd believe that allowing a human driver to interfere with autonomous driving would potentially make the entire platform more dangerous and unpredictable, but drivers aren't (yet) ready to accept truly hands-off highway transport.

    IMHO the best way forward if they want to get there eventually is ease into it with steering wheels for driver override if that's what makes folks feel more comfortable about it. For the sake of overall safety tho I think it's inevitable that hands-off will have to be the rule at some future point. Mixing unpredictable and easily distracted human drivers with truly autonomous vehicles in constant communication with other vehicles around them to prevent accidental contact is a disaster waiting to happen
    Apple should really position themselves to become the artificial intelligence and OS for the car and not let (yet another) Windows and Android situation happen to them. As long as automakers adhere to Apple standards, there should be no reason they should be excluded from implementing an Apple solution.
  • Reply 13 of 21
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    gatorguy said:
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know"

    Except there is no one in the know. Apple has not even acknowledged that they have an automotive division, so everything is still an experiment that may result in the next big thing, or may be abandoned. So trying to push the notion that Apple was building a whole car is stretching it. 
    ai46StrangeDayswatto_cobrapscooter63
  • Reply 14 of 21
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,792member
    jannl said:
    macxpress said:

    People just hear Google is coming out with this or that on the news and they just associate this with innovation. Of course the news never says anything about all the stuff they've came out with throughout the years that they've dropped. 
    Agree! Wasn't serious about Google being innovative...
    But a lot off media/analysts were serious about the Google car and that's why this report is making me smile.
    I knew you were...sorry my comment wasn't pointed towards you. It was just a general statement about Google. :)
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 21
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,293member
    Rayz2016 said:
    gatorguy said:
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know"

    Except there is no one in the know. Apple has not even acknowledged that they have an automotive division, so everything is still an experiment that may result in the next big thing, or may be abandoned. So trying to push the notion that Apple was building a whole car is stretching it. 
    i agree which is why I put the phase in quotations. It's the infamous source we never get to meet.
  • Reply 16 of 21
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,525member
    Most existing automakers will not want to partner on self-driving with tech companies like and will prefer to brew their own technology.

    I predict that Apple will buy Tesla in 2017 and take it into some radically new profitable directions.
    I don't see Apple buying Tesla.  Huge market cap and Tesla is bleeding money.  They also seem to be focused in multiple areas.  Doesn't at all seem like an Apple fit.

    IMO fully automated "ride sharing" (which is taxi service as currently implemented) services are a long way from being large-scale commercial ventures.  More like small concepts in a few cities which allow such testing.
  • Reply 17 of 21
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    jannl said:
    So, having heard for years Google is more innovative (like Glass and the development of a self-driving car), in the end they "follow Apple"  ;)
    Indeed. They're also supposedly looking into using modified Chrysler minivans. Remind me, what type of vehicle was Apple supposedly using for its own car and mapping projects? I'm half kidding, but it is an interesting coincidence :-)
  • Reply 18 of 21
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    I am sure all these companies are dropping this as Tesla have already got self driving cars. And tesla will give it away for free so why bother competing and spending money on rnd
    Because Tesla will run out of money, be bought out, or driven into the ground by competition. They sell less than 50k cars a year, all at a substantial loss. The model 3 is already a year behind schedule. And traditional automakers will beat them to the punch with mass market EVs. Telsa for all its bluster is still a small fish.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 21
    "I'm not going to take a Google car, I hear they cost Waymo than an Uber."
    roundaboutnowgatorguypscooter63
  • Reply 20 of 21
    gatorguy said:
    One possible difference based on reports concerning the two companies is Google has long said it had no intention of actually building vehicles for sale to consumers. Their goal has always been to let car companies build cars on Google's autonomous platform. Apple was considering an entire vehicle build according to "those in the know".

    So this particular piece of reporting, which remember is a rumor like many others, has to do with the way Google envisioned self-driving vehicle cockpits. If true they are demurring to the conventional auto makers and their current drive-space designs instead of insisting that driver intervention be avoided. I get why they'd believe that allowing a human driver to interfere with autonomous driving would potentially make the entire platform more dangerous and unpredictable, but drivers aren't (yet) ready to accept truly hands-off highway transport.

    IMHO the best way forward if they want to get there eventually is ease into it with steering wheels for driver override if that's what makes folks feel more comfortable about it. For the sake of overall safety tho I think it's inevitable that hands-off will have to be the rule at some future point. Mixing unpredictable and easily distracted human drivers with truly autonomous vehicles in constant communication with other vehicles around them to prevent accidental contact is a disaster waiting to happen
    Apple should really position themselves to become the artificial intelligence and OS for the car and not let (yet another) Windows and Android situation happen to them. As long as automakers adhere to Apple standards, there should be no reason they should be excluded from implementing an Apple solution.
    What is the Android situation? One in which Apple vacuums up nearly all of the profit in the sector, and Samsung gets some? Why would Apple wish to avoid that?
    edited December 2016 watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.