Google tables fully self-driving car project -- here's why

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Google

It seems lately like almost every everyone is getting into the self-driving car game. 

Except one, that has been a big player since the beginning, is pulling back. That's right, while all the other tech companies on the block are jumping feet first in to autonomous driving technology pool, Google is rethinking its goals.

In IT Blogwatch, we take the wheel. 

So what exactly is happening? Max Langridge has the background:

Google has been developing its own self-driving autonomous car for...years, racking up several million testing miles. But before the car could...make it onto the roads for real, Google has...decided to stop development.
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It's not to say Google is stopping development of self-driving technologies, but...Google has decided to...focus on collaborating with car manufacturers rather than its own model, with the intention of developing...self-driving modes but keeping the pedals and steering wheel.

Seems Google is changing course. What is the new plan? Biz Carson has the details:

The company's self-driving car group is partnering with Fiat Chrysler and introducing a line of autonomous vehicles that have traditional driving features for humans...The goal with that fleet is to potentially have a robo-taxi service online by the end of 2017.

But what's with the turnaround? Google seemed so focused on fully autonomous cars for so long? Rashabh Jain is in the know:

Google might have been one of the early movers in the self-driving landscape, but...the company has started feeling the heat from the likes of Uber and other carmakers who are moving fast towards a fleet of self-driving cars...The company’s “Chauffer” self-driving car group...needed to create a sustainable business using the technology before it moved on to fully autonomous cars.

Care to elaborate? Marco della Cava has more information:

What was once almost purely a technological exercise quickly became a race to commercialize a new tech, with concerns that Google could be left behind...the reality is that factors such as government regulations, liability concerns and consumer reaction make the leap to full autonomy more sci-fi than immediate...reality.
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Google's pivot...is...less of an indictment of its ambitious original plans and more a reflection of the fiscal realities that ultimately entangle even the most fiscally secure of tech monoliths.

It never seemed like self-driving cars were something Google was focused on profiting from before. What gives? Daniel Fuller fills us in:

Google’s modus operandi...was to never stop innovating...and to bankroll the whole operation on the back of Google’s more practical products...This culture and apparent need for it to be toned down were most of the reason that CFO Ruth Porat was brought on...she has...[put] “moonshots” under the microscope...[bringing] wild spending to bear, while implementing sensible business plans for products. Together with Porat, Larry Page decided to...focus on how the company could make back some of the so far immense investment in the [self-driving] technology that they’ve put into it.

But people still want self-driving cars. At least, Chris Stephens does:

I would buy an autonomous car from Apple, only if it used Google Maps.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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