Google to Win in Self Driving Vehicles. Too Soon to Call the Game?

September 25, 2017

I like confidence. The trait is particularly charming when predicting the future. For example, consider the write up “How Google Will Beat Tesla, GM in Self-Driving Cars.” The title promises a cook book recipe for victory and, as I interpret the title, a win for the GOOG in the autonomous car game.

I highlighted this passage as one worthy of note because it uses as a source the paywalled Wall Street Journal, the Murdoch newspaper. (I fondly recall the wire tapping allegations of another Murdoch property. Impressive, if the allegations were accurate.)

The secret to the recipe seems to be a single new hire at the GOOG, John Krafcik. Mr. Krafcik is associated with outfits which makes the Fiat 500. I noted this description of Mr. Krafcik’s contribution to the Google:

Mr. Krafcik “is making headway in bridging a yawning cultural gap between Silicon Valley and Detroit.”

Another ingredient is that the Alphabet Google thing is “looking at developing theirs for a broad range of uses, including ride hailing, fright delivery, and public transportation.

An interesting factoid caught my attention. Some auto manufacturers have cars which cannot be sold. What does one do when vacant parking lots storage yards are packed with lime green vehicles?

The answer is to convert them to autonomous vehicles. What’s a little time and effort to convert that four door gas sipper into a self driver?

That’s a question to which I don’t have an answer which the auto industry does not seem to have either. Those lime green sleds are not yet set up like a whiz bang Tesla to make autonomous driving a bit flip. Retrofit? Well, a couple of demo models maybe?

The headline and the recycling of the WSJ story do not provide a recipe.

I believe the last “Google will win” trophy was awarded to Anthony Levandowski, the Otto Uber guy. Like Google’s inspired purchase of Motorola, the Levandowski play did not have the secret to an award winning recipe.

The GOOG is swinging for the fences, but American sports do not pay much attention to the competition in other parts of the world. But Mr. Murdoch’s intrepid reporters and those who amplify the “real” journalism are more interested in clicks and ad revenue than some auto industry executives who visit the general store in Harrod’s Creek once in a while.

Yep, these folks mostly grouse about “quality”, not self driving F 150s. But that is not “real news” is it?

Stephen E Arnold, September 25, 2017


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