Google’s self-driving vehicle has made it to the epicenter of the auto industry as parts suppliers in Michigan, Livonia, based Roush Industries Inc., has signed a contract to supply parts for the concept vehicle.
According to Valley News, the driverless Google vehicle is scheduled for testing in the spring at California Google facilities. The prototypes are being scheduled for the spring as Google does not want to do initial testing on snow. Chris Urmson, the director for Self-Driving Cars for Google, says that the company has a goal of having the driverless vehicles on the market in just five short years.
Crain’s Detroit Business reports that Google did not contract with any auto makers for this project. Instead, they are using auto parts suppliers in the Detroit area and will hold off on any auto maker contracts until the prototypes are ready for production.
“Urmson did say that when the pod-like two-seater electric cars are ready for production, an automaker would be involved. He didn’t specify whether the automaker would be one of the Detroit 3.”
However, with Urmson already working with local Detroit suppliers, the likelihood of a partnership with one of the Detroit 4 is relatively high.
So what exactly will Roush be supplying for the driverless Google car?
“Bosch will supply the electric powertrain system for the Google car, including the electric motor and power electronics, Linda Beckmeyer, manager of public and press relations, confirmed in an email to Crain’s. It will also supply the long-range radar sensor used to guide autonomous systems for the vehicle.”
Urmson discussed with the Valley News the misconceptions that all new tech startups must happen in Silicon Valley and urges people to look at the innovation that is happening in Detroit.
“To say Silicon Valley is the only place where innovation happens is wrong. It is not a crusty Detroit/shiny Silicon Valley. Anyone who thinks that is crazy.”
Urmson says the test fleet of driverless cars has grown to nearly 150 vehicles. In fact, Urmson even says that the prototypes have driven over 700,000 miles on test roads with Google cars responsible for zero accidents. Google claims the driverless car may be an efficient way to increase transportation safety and Urmson says the driverless car is not just an advertising ploy.
“Google is not doing this as an advertising ploy, Urmson said. The company is using its vast resources to address some societal problems such as safe transportation.”