According to a report by Yahoo Autos, Google and Ford will join forces to form a whole new company to design, manufacture and market self-driving automobiles. The two companies are expected to announce the tie-up officially at the CES 2016 event to be held next month at Las Vegas, Nevada. Ford has reportedly scheduled a press conference at the event on the morning of January 5th (7:30AM PST), so it remains to be seen if the company makes any official announcement regarding the matter at the event. Bloomberg Business of course, had published a report earlier this month, indicating Google will spin out its self-driving vehicles project as an independent company under Alphabet. It isn't however immediately clear as to whether that report has anything to do with this current development.
Meanwhile, the alleged tie-up between Google and Ford might prove to be beneficial to both partners, seeing as Google will bring its years of research and technological knowhow regarding self-driving cars, while Ford will bring along over a century of mass-production expertise in the automotive sector. Ford of course, has itself been investing its time, money and resources on its own self-driving vehicles project as part of its Ford Smart Mobility program. Earlier this month, the company even received approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to start running its test vehicles on public roads in the state, as per the California Autonomous Vehicle Testing Program, which provides a regulatory framework for eligible companies to legally test autonomous cars on public roads.
However, Ford is no exception when it comes to joining the autonomous vehicle bandwagon. The Detroit, Michigan-based automaker is just one amongst a whole lot of automotive and technology companies that have been burning the midnight oil on autonomous vehicle research of late. While Google's work in the field is the most well-documented, companies like Apple, Delphi, Uber, General Motors etc. have all been hard at work, trying to develop their own self-driving cars from the scratch. While Ford has been using its own custom-fitted Ford Fusion Hybrid sedans for the purpose, Google had originally commissioned a fleet of Lexus RX450h hybrid SUVs for its testing purposes. Of course, the company has since moved onto its own little prototypes (pictured above) custom-made for the purpose.
Official spokespersons from both companies however, are being tight-lipped when it comes to revealing anything about the purported joint-venture. According to The Verge, when asked about the issue, Ford's spokesperson refused to either confirm or deny the report, saying, "We have been and will continue working with many companies and discussing a variety of subjects related to our Ford Smart Mobility plan. We keep these discussions private for obvious competitive reasons, and we do not comment on speculation". As for Google, the company too, is playing its cards close to its chest for now, and the company's spokesperson also conveyed in an e-mail that there would be no "comment on rumor or speculation" forthcoming from the company.