The company will instead focus on technology that it hopes to integrate with existing carmakers. From The Information:
Alphabet has backed off plans to develop a revolutionary car without a steering wheel or pedals, at least for now, according to people close to the closely-watched project. Instead, the self-driving car pioneer has settled on a more practical effort to partner with automakers to make a vehicle that drives itself but has traditional features for human drivers.
The company will also jettison its self-driving car unit out of Google X, which is its incubator of sorts, into a separate company under its namesake Alphabet. An announcement of that change is expected to be released soon.
Google is already working with Fiat-Chrysler to build 100 autonomous Pacifica minivans, in a move that was announced back in May. The company also owns ride-sharing app Waze, which it will likely merge into its car plans at some point as well.
Wired has some more information on Alphabet’s current milestones in the driverless car space:
Since Google’s autonomous vehicles were first publicly announced, they have been tested on public roads in the US. In October, Dmitri Dolgov, the head of Google’s self-driving technology, announced its vehicles have collectively driven more than two million miles – the equivalent of 300 years of human driving experience. “Our team is more confident than ever of a fully self-driving future,” he said. In May 2016 Google created a “self-driving technology development centre” in the US.
Alphabet will host a press event in California today to discuss its self-driving cars plans, so we’ll probably have some more information in the near future. But for now, it appears that the dream of a Google-branded car is over.
Alphabet shares rose $5.43 (+0.67%) to $813.33 in Tuesday morning trading.