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PHOTO CAPTION: Google's all-electric, autonomous vehicle prototype.

Ford, Google Partner on A-Cars

Companies will collaborate through a non-exclusive agreement on autonomous vehicle development.

Published: 23-Dec-2015

Google is a leader in the development of self-driving, autonomous vehicles, some of which already on the streets of Mountain View, California and Austin, Texas. Ford Motor Company is one of the largest carmakers in the world and has taken to referring to itself increasingly as a mobility company and working on transportation alternatives like electric bicycles. Bringing both of these respective skill sets and capabilities is now seen as helping accelerate development of "A-cars", short of autonomous cars.

Google as been working on self-driving car technology in 2012 using a modified Toyota Prius. In 2014, they debuted a steering wheel-free autonomous car like that pictured above. Ford recently established a research laboratory in Palo Alto, California just up the road from Tesla, which is also working on A-car research. The Dearborn auto giant naturally brings its world-class vehicle manufacturing to the endeavor.

While Ford has said little about its own robotic driving technology, a Ford engineer intimated to EV World's publisher more than two years ago that the company was capable then of rolling out its own autonomous technology, but an unsettled legal and liability landscape was preventing the company from aggressively pursuing it. Google's announcement that it was working on a competitor to Uber, presumably based on its self-driving vehicles, has helped spur an intensification of the race to be the first to bring the technology to market.

Additionally, a growing list of states, starting with Nevada in 2011, have passed legislation allowing the limited use of A-cars on its roads. They were followed by Florida, California, and Michigan. Johnson County, Iowa also has passed legislation allowing them on its roads. Both Mountain View, Austin, and now Coeur d'Alene, Idaho have granted them similar access.

Ford's decision to introduce some 13 new electric-drive models by 2020 would strongly suggest that whatever A-cars emerge from their collaboration with Google, they are likely to be electric.

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