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Google pleas to automakers for help to realise its self-driving car dream

Google wants automakers to help it accelerate the development of its self-driving cars.

The recently appointed boss of the online firm’s fledgling automotive division, John Krafcik, used his keynote at the Detroit Motor Show to reveal its intention to strike deals with prospective rivals. “We hope to work with many of you guys,” said the former Ford and Hyundai executive, before assuring that this was not about sabotaging the efforts of other firms looking to make their own autonomous vehicles.

“No one goes this alone, we are going to need a lot of help. For this next stage of our development, we’ll have more partnerships,” Krafcik explained.

He stopped short of revealing who those partnerships could be with and what specific elements they’d focus on. It had been rumoured that Google and Ford would announce a tie-up at the show, though neither had anything to say on the matter. Google already has a range of fully autonomous Lexus SUV’s and bubble shaped prototypes that have clocked up more than 1.3 million miles.

The online firm’s charm offensive on the same industry it is trying to disrupt comes as traditional players like Ford and BMW look to build self-driving cars of their own. While the rewards of being among the first to market with an autonomous car are plenty, a collaborative effort could form the basis of an open system that would negate the development of walled gardens, an issue debated during last week’s CES.

Krafcik then went on to detail how Google’s vision was to create a brand of self-driving cars that could be used by anyone, young and old, with or without licenses. In California, proposals have been submitted that would require automated cars to be operated by people with a special driver’s license that would exclude people with disabilities, young and very old.

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