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Google and Ford join forces to develop self-driving cars

Google and Ford have decided to join forces to build self-driving vehicles by forming a joint venture between the two companies. Google's technology will enable the cars to drive autonomously while Ford will design and manufacture the vehicles being used.

The partnership between Google and Ford will be announced by Ford at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January. This joint venture will take the pressure of designing its own vehicles off of Google while helping Ford gain valuable knowledge and insight into self-driving software development.

Ford has been developing its own self-driving system for years now but the company lacks the real world testing that Google has been able to acquire. Currently Google is testing 53 vehicles publicly in California and Texas and so far the company has logged 1.3 million miles of autonomous driving.

If Google did not align with an automotive manufacturer, it would take a significant amount of money and time to gain the necessary manufacturing expertise to begin producing its own cars. Ford is not the only company Google has reached out to and Google co-founder Sergey Brin believes that one day its self-driving cars could greatly reduce the number of deaths on U.S. roads which averages roughly 33,000 per year.

Neither company was ready to give exact details on their partnership, it was made clear that this new venture would be legally separated from Ford in order to protect the automotive company from possible liability. Volvo was the first company to publicly state that it would accept responsibility for crashes that occurred while its cars were driving in autonomous mode earlier this year. The company was quickly followed by Mercedes Benz and Google, which both pledged to take responsibility for any accidents that may occur.

The agreement between Google and Ford is non-exclusive in nature and Google has been in talks with several other automotive manufacturers in hopes to get its self-driving systems into their vehicles. The race to develop successful autonomous vehicles has gained momentum in the past few years and Nissan, Vovlo, and Mercedes Benz have all said that they will offer consumers the opportunity to purchase advanced vehicles by 2020.

Google and Ford's new partnership could help accelerate the development and adoption of self-driving cars that are powered by Google's technology which has already proven itself to be more than capable off of a closed course.

Image Credit: Shutterstock / chombosan

Anthony Spadafora
After living and working in South Korea for seven years, Anthony now resides in Houston, Texas where he writes about a variety of technology topics for ITProPortal.