From friends to rivals: What happened between Google and Uber?
Google is arguably the biggest name in autonomous vehicles right now, just as Uber is less arguably the biggest name in ride-sharing at the moment, but it looks like the two are about to encroach upon each other’s respective territories.
A recent report from Bloomberg claims that, despite having invested $258 million in Uber back in August of 2013, Google is looking to offer its own ride-sharing service that will serve as a direct competitor to Uber. This is according to David Drummond, an important Google executive who joined Uber’s board of directors back in 2013, who has apparently informed the rest of the board of Google’s plans and has even shown them screenshots of what the app will look like.
Brad Stone goes into further details in his report for Bloomberg, describing how bad things have become between Google and Uber where once people thought that the two would grow to be strong allies:
“Now there are signs that the companies are more likely to be ferocious competitors than allies. Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service, most likely in conjunction with its long-in-development driverless car project. Drummond has informed Uber’s board of this possibility, according to a person close to the Uber board, and Uber executives have seen screenshots of what appears to be a Google ride-sharing app that is currently being used by Google employees. This person, who requested not to be named because the talks are private, said the Uber board is now weighing whether to ask Drummond to resign his position as an Uber board member.”
Whether in response to Google’s encroachment or of its own accord, Uber has decided to form a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to form what it calls the “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” in Pittsburg. It’s here that Uber employees will work closely alongside Carnegie Mellon faculty and students to begin research and development into what the company describes as “mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.”
Jeff Holden, the chief product officer at Uber, expressed how excited the he and the company are to begin their partnership with the renowned university on Uber’s official blog:
“We are excited to join the community of Pittsburgh and partner with the experts at CMU, whose breadth and depth of technical expertise, particularly in robotics, are unmatched. As a global leader in urban transportation, we have the unique opportunity to invest in leading edge technologies to enable the safe and efficient movement of people and things at giant scale. This collaboration and the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Center represent an important investment in building for the long term of Uber.”
While this most certainly could be a response to Google’s own ride-sharing app, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has mentioned in the past that he views autonomous taxis as the future of transportation. He expressed his belief that the lack of a driver would make Uber a true alternative to owning and driving your own vehicle thanks in large part to the significantly reduced cost.