Google Developing Ride-Share Competitor to Uber

8 years, 3 months ago - 5 February 2015, Autoblog
Google Developing Ride-Share Competitor to Uber
Google and Uber have been in bed together for more than a year now. Google Ventures invested a quarter-billion dollars in the ride-hailing service in 2013 and has invested even more since, placing David Drummond (one of Google's senior executives) on Uber's board.

The latter's service also relies heavily on the former's maps, but the latest reports paint a picture of a growing rift between the two companies that could see Google launch a ride-sharing platform of its own.

According to Bloomberg Business, Uber executives have seen an early prototype for a ride-sharing app being developed by Google and already being used by some of its employees. Whether the app would be launched on its own remains unclear, but it could form an integral part of Google's autonomous vehicle program that would see passengers hailing a self-driving taxi via their smartphones to be picked up and taken to their destinations. Drummond reportedly alerted the Uber board of the potential conflict of interest, which could prompt his resignation from the board.

Whether in response or independently, Uber is also partnering with Carnegie Mellon University and its National Robotics Engineer Center to establish the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. The joint team there will be dedicated to the research and development of "mapping and vehicle safety and autonomous technology," according to the joint statement on the Uber blog. The development could end up pitting Uber directly against Google's own autonomous vehicle program.

In a further sign of the deepening rift between the two companies, Google Now will soon begin to display on the screens of its Android smartphones information provided by third-party applications. Rival service Lyft is among them, but Uber is reportedly not.