Sunday, March 22, 2015

Google Betrays Uber, And Now It's War

From Dan Lyons:
Remember how Eric Schmidt spent years sitting on the Apple board, quietly learning everything about the iPhone — and then, presto, Google suddenly came out with Android and it looked a whole lot like the iPhone operating system and Steve Jobs went nuts on Schmidt for being such a sneaky, backstabbing son of a bitch?

Well, Google just snuck up on another victim. This time it's Uber.

BusinessWeek reports that "Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service." Google's service will involve self-driving cars. In theory that could make the service cheaper and better than Uber. There would also be less chance of getting assaulted by a driver. On the other hand, in the Google car you will probably be bombarded with ads.

You didn't think Google was just making those crazy little robot cars just for fun, did you? Widespread rollout might be a few years away, but Googlers are already using the service, supposedly. And Uber has seen screenshots of the app.

What makes this a lot more interesting and backstabby is that Google has been an investor in Uber, which has given Google access to all sorts of inside information about Uber. Worse, Google's chief counsel, David Drummond, has been on Uber's board of directors since 2013. Now Uber is thinking about throwing Drummond off the board, and so they should!


  1. Robocars are way far away from being safe to use on public roads (except under the highly controlled Google testing conditions). Google can't just wave a magic wand and have all the regulatory agencies approve their technology for use on public roads (though I guess they can wave a lot of greenbacks under their noses).

    Robocar is not capable of operating safely on public roads given real-world messy traffic controls (faded and missing pavement markings, inconsistent signage like a stop sign not facing the approaching robocar at 90-degrees) and wildly varying weather conditions.

    Who's at fault if their robocar crashes and kills people? Google? If the robocar control software is anything like any other software in the world, we can expect bugs (system crash followed by an actual crash). And how much cost does the auto-guidance system add to the car (hardware and software plus maintenance etc)? According to Google, it was $150K. Add to that the cost of the car plus maintenance...

    I don't think Uber has anything to fear from robotaxis.

    More of a concern to everyone should be Google lobbying state legislatures and Congress to force public roads to be made robocar friendly meaning there is the threat the state will be footing the bill to upgrade traffic controls, road design standards and maintenance requirements to accomodate Google's wundercar technology... A huge cost lawmakers would foist on the taxpayer like the misnamed "intelligent" traffic systems installed all over the country. Megamillions spent on jumbotrons that tell you you're stuck in a traffic jam (they could play movies on them at least).

  2. I sure as hell wouldn't get into a car that doesnt have a human driver.