googleOn Thursday, May 29, General Motors acknowledged the threat that Google poses to traditional automakers. According to Mark Reuss, product-development chief at GM, “Google could become a “serious competitive threat” to the auto industry if it continues to push its self-driving cars.”1 This comes just days after Google announced their plans to build 100 self-driving car prototypes. Re/code did a very good write up on Google’s new autonomous, self-driving car:

It may seem like a silly thing to point out, but even though Google’s self-driving cars have racked up 700,000 miles of testing, they don’t actually drive independently. The company said the cars can handle most situations…but every time they are sent out on the road they are carefully monitored by two Google employees who are ready to take control at any moment.

The new car has no such human safety net. It’s entirely driven by computers. To head off any concerns of malfunctioning robots hurtling you toward imminent doom, Google has made the car look cute and cuddly from the outset.2

Google Car

It seems Detroit was watching. Reuss brought up another point about these new driver-less cars. “Anybody can do anything with enough time and money…If they set their mind to it, I have no doubt” that they could become “a very serious competitive threat.”3 Further, Google’s new cars are stepping on GM’s toes a little bit. Last year, GM unveiled “Super Cruise,” a semi-autonomous driving system:

Development of “Super Cruise,” Cadillac’s semi-automated driving system, is advancing to the next stage of development, including real-world driving assessment and trials. Cadillac projects this technology could make its way into production models later this decade.4

Though both Google’s driver-less car, and the GM “Super Cruise,” are still some ways away, it is worth noting that GM is acknowledging Google as a serious threat.

  1. Tim Higgins, Bloomberg Tech, “GM Executive Says Google Could Be ‘Competitive Threat’,” 29 May 2014  
  2. Liz Gannes, Re/code, “Google’s New Self-Driving Car Ditches the Steering Wheel,” 27 May 2014  
  3. Tim Higgins, Bloomberg Tech, “GM Executive Says Google Could Be ‘Competitive Threat’,” 29 May 2014  
  4. GM Newsroom, “‘Super Cruise’ Takes on Real-World Traffic Scenarios,” 29 April 2013