Google, currently the most used search engine and the maker of the world’s most popular mobile platform is reportedly working on a ride-sharing service that could compete with Uber some time in the future.
What’s more, is it rumored that this is where Google will employ their autonomous driving technology, something that’s currently being tested by Google employees in Silicon Valley.
As far-fetched an idea as this may sound, it does have basis. Google’s largest investment currently stands at $258 million and it is with Uber. Google’s Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President David Drummond has been on Uber’s board of directors since 2013.
Uber has been so informed about Google’s plans by Drummond his position with the board is now being reconsidered by the company.
As Google makes its moves, Uber isn’t technically standing still. They have reportedly contracted scientists working on robotics from Carnegie Mellon University to begin development of autonomous vehicles as well.
“The Uber experience is expensive because it’s not just the car but the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle,” said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
Google has admitted that their autonomous vehicle technology is about two to five years away from being operational.
“We're thinking a lot about how in the long-term, this might become useful in people's lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going. One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there,” said Google exec Chris Urmson.
If Google decides to shift its budget to fully finance this ride-sharing service project, Uber has the most to lose. Without industry-leading Google Maps, Uber’s application will suffer and so will its users.
An industry insider though is downplaying the situation, indicating that the service Google is working on is an internal app meant for employees to hail rides using their driverless vehicle technology.
Source: Bloomberg Business and the Wall Street Journal