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Google designing self-driving 'robo taxi' to ferry you about

Google is reported to be working on its own self-driving car, in case it doesn't reach a deal with vehicle makers.

Joe Svetlik Reporter
Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.
Joe Svetlik
2 min read

We knew Google wanted to bring self-driving cars to our roads, but now comes word the company is working on a driverless vehicle of its own. And if its plans come to fruition, we could soon be flagging down self-driving robot taxis.

Google is pursuing its own self-driving car because its talks with motor vehicle manufacturers are yet to bear fruit. That's according to former Wall Street Journal reporter Amir Efrati, who's spoken to insider sources.

Apparently the big G has been holding talks with car makers over the last few months, trying to get them to build driverless vehicles using its technology, and to its specifications. And none of them have been keen. Not to be dissuaded, Google is considering going at it alone.

Though it's still looking to partner with a car maker. According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the company is close to inking a deal with Continental, one of the world's biggest makers of car components.

Google could be trying to pressure car companies into using its tech instead of trying to develop their own. For example, it could design its own vehicle, then outsource the actual production to another company. For its Nexus Android devices, Google gets companies to put forward designs and picks the best ones to partner with. 

But Google doesn't want to just sell us these cars. It also foresees a fleet of robot taxis that would cruise the streets, ready to take us wherever we want. Which sounds great I think, as long as they go south of the river at this time of night.

It's reportedly been eyeing up cities to test the robot taxi fleet in, just as it did with its Google Fiber broadband project.

Obviously Google doesn't have a history of making cars, but it's not a complete novice in the area. According to one source, the company has worked on a spinning laser -- known as a lidar -- that generates info about a car's physical surroundings that can be analysed by Google's software.

Google's current fleet of self-driving cars are Toyota Priuses retrofitted with cameras, sensors, radars, and the company's own software. Such vehicles have been given the green light to be tested on British roads before the end of the year.

Do you think self-driving cars will ever be a reality? Would you feel safe in one? Or would they be more trouble than they're worth? Let me know in the comments, or steer yourself over to our Facebook page.