Google Seeking Partners for Driverless Cars As Study Reveals Market
April 28, 2012

Google Seeking Partners for Driverless Cars As Study Reveals Market

As Google executives visited Detroit automakers to discuss possible partnerships for their self-driving car technology this week, a new survey has found that more than one-third of all consumers would be interested in purchasing such a vehicle.

As part of the study, J.D. Power and Associates contacted 17,400 vehicle owners in order to gauge their interest level in new automotive technology, including self-driving tech like that being developed by the Mountain View, California-based company, CNET's Liane Yvkoff wrote on Friday.

Of those contacted by the research firm, 37% said that they would be interested in purchasing a fully self-driving automobile, Yvkoff said. However, only 20% said that they would still be interested in doing so if they would have to pay an additional $3,000 for such a feature. Furthermore, the J.D. Power and Associates poll revealed that men (25%) were more interested in the feature than women (14%), and that only 9% of older drivers claimed that they would be willing to purchase a car that could drive itself.

Perhaps anticipating such consumer interest, Google Product Manager Anthony Levandowski was in Detroit this week, speaking with car manufactures and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress 2012 to see how interested they could be in the technology, the Wall Street Journal and TG Daily said.

Levandowski told the Journal's Joseph B. White that they were "talking to every car company to see what their level of excitement is," and adding, according to Nathan Bomey of USA Today and the Detroit Free Press, that insurance companies "see the opportunities for this technology being really positive."

"I think it's time for us to break that cycle and actually bring them to market sooner. I don't think we need to wait 10 years for the next model or body styles to come out to build this technology," Levandowski said, according to Bomey, adding that data collected by Google over more than 200,000 of tests indicate that, with a some additional tweaks and improvements to the system, the technology could drive a car more safely than a person.

"However," TG Daily's Trent Nouveau wrote, "Levandowski did concede that Google wasn´t 'quite there yet' and acknowledged vehicles may never reach the stage where a driver could sleep away an entire ride. Nevertheless, the Google rep did term driverless vehicle technology a moral imperative, claiming it would eliminate a 'huge chunk' of the more than 30,000 fatalities that occur in vehicle accidents every year across the United States."