Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Google Already the Victor in Uber's Race for Driverless Taxis?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is Google Already the Victor in Uber's Race for Driverless Taxis?

Article excerpt

What do a ride-sharing app and a search engine have in common? They both want to bring you driverless taxis.

It was revealed yesterday that Google and Uber are expanding their research and development into each others' territories. Uber will be researching driverless cars, and Google has been dabbling with a ride-sharing app.

While it is unsure who decided to copy who's model first, the two companies appear to be headed toward a fierce rivalry.

Monday, on its official blog, Uber announced it would be partnering with Carnegie Mellon University to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. The center's main focus will be "to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology."

Google made no formal announcement, but as Bloomberg reports, David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, who sits on Uber's board of directors, allegedly informed Uber that Google is considering entering the ride-sharing market. The tech giant has also been very vocal about its push for autonomous cars.

For obvious reasons, there are rumors Uber will ask Mr. Drummond to resign from its board of directors.

The screenshots of Google employees testing what appears to be a Google ride-sharing app was sure to challenge Uber executives. While Uber has had a healthy relationship with the technological giant, its dependence may be its downfall in this competition.

Uber's app relies on Google Maps, which is seen by many as superior to other mapping applications out there. This gives Google an easy leg-up should it decide to create its own taxi service. It need not spend resources developing its own service, since it's prebuilt; Uber is, in fact, improving Google Maps by using it, since its driver data feeds back into Google's traffic reports; and if Uber decides to cut ties with Google, perhaps creating its own maps app, it would need to spend huge amounts of time and money to catch up with where Google is right now. …

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