Google Ventures’ $250M investment in Uber makes a lot more sense with some news reported by Jessica Lessin this morning. The site is reporting that Google is making its own driverless cars to be “robo taxis”:
Google Inc., which has been working on software to help major automakers build self-driving cars, also is quietly going around them by designing and developing a full-fledged self-driving car, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the Prius has been Google’s main guinea pig of the self-driving car efforts, it looks like Google would like to control the entire manufacturing experience for these cars. In addition, the company’s focus is geared towards driver-free taxi services rather than selling the cars direct to consumers.
The company has considered ways to sell self-driving vehicles to individuals. But it also has focused on the potential for an autonomous car it designs to become part of “robo-taxi” services that pick up passengers on demand, these people said.
Focusing on taxi services rather than direct-to-consumer may be the best decision, as the report says someone familiar with the matter claims the current prototype cars cost around $150k each.
One may envision a new “Driverless” option in the Uber app to accompany the black car and taxi transit services available.