Despite investing heavily in Uber since 2013, Google is reportedly launching a ride-hailing service of its own to take on the startup. Whether it launches soon or some way down the line, the suggestion is that at some point Google will want to use its driverless car technology to operate the service.
Bloomberg reports Uber executives learned of the company’s apparent plan from David Drummond, the Google’s chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, who also happens to be an Uber board member. At least, he is now, because Uber could ask the Google executive to resign. Add to all this, it’s also been said that Uber executives have seen a functioning ride-hailing app created by Google and that some employees at the company are already taking it for a spin.
As Bloomberg points out in its report, a Google ride-hailing service could spell trouble for Uber on several fronts. For starters, the Mountain View company has huge amounts of technical expertise and money to throw at the project to make it work, a situation that could put serious pressure on Uber’s own business. On top of that, Uber relies on Google Maps for its range of apps. If it lost access to the service, it could find itself in a real fix, especially while rival mapping apps continue to play catch-up with Google’s highly regarded offering.
The story also takes another twist. Uber recently announced that it’s joining forces with Carnegie Mellon University to create an Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. According to Uber, the new facility will focus on research and development mainly in the areas of “mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology.” The announcement follows comments made last year by Uber CEO Travis Kalanick when he said his company’s service would likely shift from using drivers to one using only driverless cars.
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