Friday, March 17, 2017

Fury Road: Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future From Google? - Bloomberg

Excerpt from this week's Bloomberg Businessweek cover story

"“Google is the Xerox Parc of self-driving cars,” says George Hotz, the founder of Comma.ai, another autonomous car startup. It’s a backhanded compliment: Although Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center invented the modern computer operating system, it didn’t bring the invention to market; Apple Inc. did. “The real question is, why hasn’t Google shipped?” Hotz asks. He regards Google’s lawsuit as a deliberate conflation of two different beefs. The first—the accusation that Levandowski stole documents—is serious. The second, Hotz says, “just signals weakness on Google’s part.” In Silicon Valley, and at the Googleplex, litigation is looked upon as the last refuge of the undisruptive.

Whatever Levandowski did with Google’s files, he’s not wrong that Google has struggled to commercialize technology that’s widely regarded as the best in the automotive industry. Before Google worked on its current prototype, a two-seater that has a top speed of 20 miles per hour and vaguely resembles a koala bear, the company pitched Elon Musk on outfitting his electric Tesla vehicles with Google tech, according to two people familiar with the deal. Musk passed and a few years later launched Tesla Inc.’s highway autopilot service on his own. A former Google executive says John Krafcik, who joined the car project as CEO in 2015, would sometimes appear rattled by the competitive moves of Tesla and Uber, wondering aloud if Google may have already been “leapfrogged.” He would grow particularly irritable “every time Elon would post something on Twitter,” the executive says."
Fury Road: Did Uber Steal the Driverless Future From Google? - Bloomberg
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