[John Krafcik, the chief executive of Google’s self-driving car division] did not unfurl any deals with carmakers. Instead, he doubled down on Google’s unique commitment to total autonomy, a critical signal to the industry — and its regulators — that this approach is the safest route as self-driving vehicles prepare to become a massive business.
“The industry has been making continuous incremental gains, but for self-driving cars to reach their full potential we need to focus on nothing short of full autonomy,” Krafcik said on Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. (..)
At the moment, however, Google is alone in this camp. All the carmakers working on autonomy, including Tesla, have endorsed an incremental approach — building in self-driving features so consumers can adapt to them. Many disagree with Google that this is fundamentally less safe.
There is not only tension with regards to technological feasability but, more importantly perhaps, with regards to business and incentives:
Several people in the industry say that Google’s business interest is in operating fully driverless taxi fleets. If Google can convince the automotive industry — and, perhaps more critically, automotive regulators — that this is a safer approach, then that better positions its business interest.
That of course is the business goal for Google here. A fully autonomous car fleet could mean in the long run that Google parent Alphabet just added an Uber to its portfolio. (with the according valuation and business opportunity)