What's Behind Ford and Google's Big CES Announcement?

It looks like Ford is going to make Google's self-driving car.

by Sam Blum

The newest partnership aimed at developing self-driving cars will involve two quintessential American companies that are both pioneers in their respective fields. Google and Ford are teaming up to build the driverless car, and the two companies will announce the new partnership at CES, January 6-9, in Las Vegas, according to a new report.

Nothing has been publicly confirmed by either Google or Ford, but numerous sources with inside knowledge of the partnership have revealed details to Yahoo! about the project. The deal is set to be non-exclusive, meaning that Google could potentially court another automaker willing to use its technology, while Ford could enlist the engineering talent of a different tech firm if it so chooses.

Google’s parent company Alphabet announced plans to develop self-driving vehicles earlier this month. The company has spoken of its intent to implement a ride-share model similar to what Uber and Lyft offer.

Numerous traditional automakers like Nissan, Porsche, and BMW are following the industry-setting standard advanced by Tesla, led by CEO Elon Musk, and have summoned the best engineering talent available to develop autonomous capability.

While Tesla Motors is famed for having developed much of its Autopilot technology in-house, it hasn’t been uncommon for high-profile tech companies to partner with automakers as self-driving cars become increasingly hyped. It’s been speculated that Samsung could very well be collaborating with BMW.


Google’s foray into driverless cars has been an ongoing process, and repeatedly the company has shown its capability for building viable autonomous tech. Google currently has a fleet of cute self-driving vehicles zipping around streets outside its Mountain View, California headquarters and in Austin, Texas. According to Google, its 53 autonomous cars have already logged 1.3 million miles.

Excitement usually follows when any new automaker ventures down the autonomous path, but little has actually been achieved in this realm, at least in a commercial sense. Tesla, which boasts the only autonomous system commercially available, recently scaled back what its Autopilot software can do, citing some drivers abusing the system with erratic and unsafe behavior.

Who will win the race to mass-produced, safe driverless cars? Right now, the field is wide-open: Everyone from BMW’s CEO to a garage-dwelling renegade hacker, think that they’re very close to unleashing the world’s best autonomous vehicle.

Related Tags