Google is on the move and we don’t just mean through fiber optic wire. The internet search giant is on a hiring spree to beef up its self-driving car unit. The company is reportedly hiring 36 more people for its ‘Project X’ autonomous car department, according to CNBC.
Here’s the really big news. The new positions are more focused on actual vehicle production, not just technology. Until now, Google has seemingly focused mostly on developing self-driving technology, but not actually building cars. But the new job listings signal a shift towards doing just that. They include manufacturing and engineering roles focus on making motion control, sensors, and robotics systems.
Google is nothing if not serious about self-driving cars. It’s now testing them in Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. Google brags that it’s already self-driven one million miles, which is a good start, to say the least.
Back in September, the company also appointed former Hyundai Motors America chief executive John Krafcik to head its driverless car division.
The project also received a huge boost this month thanks to federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the computer controlling the self-driving car should be legally defined as a “driver” rather than the human.
“NHTSA will interpret ‘driver’ in the context of Google’s described motor vehicle design as referring to the self-driving system, and not to any of the vehicle occupants,” the agency said. “We agree with Google its self-driving vehicle will not have a ‘driver’ in the traditional sense that vehicles have had drivers during the last more than one hundred years.”
The ruling is a big deal because it means Google’s car could pass the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards test.
The NHTSA guidance is big news for all automakers, including Toyota, Mercedes, and Ford, that are also working on self-driving technology. Many are hoping to have autonomous cars ready by 2020, but both Mercedes and Toyota are skeptical about the 4 year time frame.
Now a quick history note. Interest in self-driving vehicles is nothing new. In fact, GM and RCA created an Autonomous Highway System prototype back in the 1950s. The sophisticated system relied on magnets to keep the cars on track.
Now, over 60 years later, it’s interesting to see how far technology has come and exciting to think about it where the road goes from here.
Photo Credit: Google