Google met with America's automakers in 2012 to talk about building their new self-driving cars. Initial meetings were promising, but things quickly fell apart. Google's vision and what car companies thought they could do were separated by a gulf of doubt and indecision. Talks fell apart and Google moved on with the project without the help of any car companies. They forged ahead, and created and built a design that doesn't even have a steering wheel. It's wild, it's new, and it's making big car manufacturers really uncomfortable.
Reuters says that car companies are scared of competition while also being nervous about the dangers inherent in what Google is doing. Automakers don't know what to make of Google and their push into this offline world. "The auto companies are watching Google closely and trying to understand what its intentions and ambitions are," said an anonymous person who works in the industry. "Automakers are not sure if Google is their friend or their enemy, but they have a sneaking suspicion that whatever Google's going to do is going to cause upheaval in the industry."
It sounds to me like car companies don't want Google playing in their sandbox. Their discomfort with what Google is doing is not really about safety and regulation. Mountain View has been disruptive in other online and offline spaces before. There's a real chance that Google will change the way consumers view car buying and automobile ownership, and that's bad news for America's auto giants.
Sergey Brin says he sees self-driving cars as a sort of autonomous fleet of taxis. When you need a car, you call one. It shows up and takes you where you need to go, likely at a discounted rate because Google will also be showing you ads while you ride. You don't have to drive, and you don't have to own a car.
Google may have to compromise with Detroit in the end, but for now they are continuing to progress with the project while automakers continue to wring their hands about what the tech giant is trying to do. You should head over to Reuters to read the full story.