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Detroit Not On Board With Google's Push Into The Auto Industry

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 7/3/2014

Industries collide as Google and Detroit automakers wrangle over efforts to bring self-driving cars to the marketplace.

Technology innovation is often the driving force behind advances in business and transportation. But with major players in technology and business at odds, it looks like there may be a rough road ahead for self-driving cars--an innovation that could revolutionize transportation for millions of U.S. consumers.

Google Self-Driving Car

It's common knowledge that Google has been working on the concept of a self-driving car for some time. Using proprietary mapping technology, GPS systems and other tools, Google hopes to ultimately market a car that pilots itself, enabling drivers to perform other activities while traveling.

However, recent articles at the Venture Capital Post and other sources have indicated that the technology giant's initially meetings with Detroit automakers were extremely divisive and confrontational. Although both Google and the nation's major automakers agree that self-driving vehicles are the future, they failed to agree on even the most basic issues like the car's capabilities and the amount of time it will take to bring the technology to market.

"Automakers are not sure if Google is their friend or their enemy, but they have a sneaking suspicion that whatever Google's going to do is going to cause upheaval in the industry," an unnamed auto industry source told the Venture Capital Post.

One of the sticking points is that automakers are invested in introducing self-driving features to their existing auto lines over time, while Google is invested in completely reinventing the design of autonomous vehicles--a goal that could jeopardize large automakers' already shaky hold over the vehicle marketplace.

Singularity Hub has noted that Google's plans feature disruptive technologies and "the Innovators' Dilemma." The Innovators' Dilemma is a Silicon Valley phrase for the fact that when a disruptive technology enters the marketplace, few of the industry's established providers emerge on the other side.

Given advances in technology, the business innovation vs. technological innovation battle is inevitable. However, as autonomous, self-driving vehicles slowly inch toward the marketplace, it will be important for Google and automakers to remember that both kinds of innovation are necessary to develop a sustainable business model.

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