Google has reportedly stopped work on creating its own fully autonomous vehicles, as part of a shake-up of its development efforts on self-driving car technologies.
Google has been working on such vehicles for years now, revealing its first complete self-driving car two years ago. But it now faces intensifying competition from other firms, some of which appear to be making swifter progress. Uber, for example, has already begun commercial trials of its autonomous Volvo SUVs, with plans to eventually deploy self-driving vehicles more widely across its global ride-sharing service.
But while Google co-founder Sergey Brin is said to be keen to continue development of a fully autonomous car designed entirely for that purpose - with no steering wheel or other 'traditional' driving controls - Alphabet CEO Larry Page is reportedly more pragmatic. Page and Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat are believed to be behind the decision to suspend work on Google's own in-house vehicle, to focus instead on collaborations with auto manufacturers.
According to The Information, Google's autonomous vehicle division, Chauffeur, is now aiming to build a workable business around its technology, before any further considerations are made about creating its own self-driving car.
Google announced a non-exclusive partnership in May with auto giant Fiat Chrysler, to develop more 'conventional' cars that include autonomous driving technology. Current efforts are focused on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan, as part of a broader plan to develop an autonomous ride-sharing service next year, similar to that envisaged by Uber. If Google were to license its self-driving technology to other manufacturers, it could potentially generate the revenue needed to justify further development of its own fully autonomous vehicle.
For now, though, it appears that Google's plans to create its own self-driving car have hit a brick wall.