Ford and Google Team up for Driverless Cars

Google self-driving prototype

In one bizarre partnership, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) and Google teamed up, to lead a call for the advancement and federal approval for the driverless cars.

Driverless cars partnership

The partnership may lead to an eventual working together in the manufacturing of the autonomous cars. They are teaming up to favor regulations for fully autonomous cars. Ford’s Chief Executive, Mark Fields, has in recent months said that his company has been evaluating all potential partnerships with some of the autonomous vehicle companies, but is yet to make a formal move in that direction.

The public policy coalition with Google is therefore being seen as a move that might pave a way for the two companies to make another coalition later on. Ford is therefore partnering with one of the most prominent supporters of driverless cars in Google.

The group, named the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, gave a testimony at a hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The hearing was about autonomous vehicles.

Back in January, the Obama administration said they wanted to quicken the process of making regulatory guidelines, for the driverless cars and hopefully invest in them to bring them into the market.

Google has been at the forefront of the tests of driverless cars, but many mainstream car makers such as Ford are now also accelerating their development of a wide range of autonomous cars.

The country’s top auto safety regulator, Mark Rosekind, said at a hearing on Wednesday at Stanford University in California, that the federal government hoped the introduction of driverless cars would reduce death toll annual results from traffic accidents. In 2014, the last recorded year, 32,675 people died in auto accidents.

Mr Rosekind said 90 percent of accidents were as a result of decisions made by the driver. Self-driving technology had the potential to remove some of that.

Most car makers have already integrated some self driving features such as automatic braking and steering in their current models. The coalition between Ford and Google is however urging for regulations that allow for complete and totally autonomous vehicles.

The coalition is also made up of Swedish car maker, Volvo, and ride sharing companies Lyft and Uber. Spokesman for the group is David Strickland, the predecessor to Mr Rosekind’s position at the safety agency.

“There are policy issues and inconsistencies in the regulatory environment today that could greatly delay deployment or possibly deny full self-driving from many that could benefit from its promise,” Mr. Strickland said at the hearing.

However, a Ford spokeswoman said the partnership with Google was not an indication of what was to come, but rather simply two companies working together for one goal. As explained by her statement, “The five founding members of the coalition are focused on public policy issues. That’s the mission of the group.”

Other carmakers also testified separately at the hearing including General Motors and Toyota. One Toyota official said regulators were supposed to wait until the product was on the market, and then they can introduce the regulations.

Other groups at the hearing supporting driverless cars included the disabled people group for those who can’t operate vehicles, and Mothers Against Dr*nk Driving, which noted that the cars might aid in reducing dr*nk driving accidents.

In one earlier hearing, other groups such as the Consumer Watchdog said the feature of self driving had not been entirely perfected in the outside world yet. They urged that future regulations require presence of a licensed driver in the car to take control if the vehicle fails to operate safely.