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Chrysler, Ford and GM – Is That Google in Your Rear View Mirror?

March 12th, 2016 by Michael Dyet

Rant alert: Your designated technology curmudgeon is about to go on another rant. Take a deep breath and fasten your seatbelt for a bumpy ride. (Pun intended)

Hmmm, which autonomous vehicle will roll off the assembly line first: the Googlemobile, the Apple iCar or the Uber Coupe?

The race is on to pioneer the first self-driving car – a fusion of futuristic software and traditional manufacturing. The players in this high stakes race are an odd mix: Daimler AG, GM, Tesla, Uber Technologies, Apple and, wait for it… Google. Yes, the one and only Google.

Apparently, Google has a self-driving car team in place with 170 experts already on board and recruitment underway for dozens more. I wonder if there is a place for me on the team. No, I am not an engineer. But if the salary is right, I might sign on as a crash test dummy.

But seriously, the whole idea makes me very uncomfortable for a plethora of reasons.

First of all, do we need a self-driving car? Are our lives so busy, our brains so overtaxed, that we cannot spare the brain power to operate a vehicle the old fashioned way? If that is the case, we have bigger problems to solve.

Google and automobile in the same sentence just seems wrong. I understand that Google would develop the software and partner with a manufacturer to build the next generation metal box on wheels There is still a disconnect that sends up danger flares.

What happens when the Googlemobile breaks down? Do I send an e-mail to Google tech support and wait three days only to be told to reboot the wireless router?

I do not want to be anywhere in the vicinity when the Googlemobile 1.0 firsts hits the highway. Every new software program has bugs. Who will pick up the pieces when an undetected bug in the program causes the Googlemobile to make a hard right turn while doing 80 clicks per hour in heavy traffic on the 401?

On that subject, Google is reportedly talking with U.S. federal and state regulators about the changes that will be necessary to motor vehicle safety standards. In this kind of futuristic scenario, the law often has a difficult time catching up with technology.

And finally, is this yet another because we can technology initiative? Or perhaps more accurately, another because we can make a crap load of money from it whether it is a good idea or not technology leap. (I warned you – technology curmudgeon at the wheel.)

The big money in this case is not in the sale of the vehicle. It is in the stream of user data that self-driving cars will need. The possibilities no doubt have the tech companies foaming at the mouth with anticipation.

One of the most apt metaphors I have heard in quite some time applies here. Technology is like chocolate – rich, sweet and satisfying, but too much of it can make you sick. The autonomous car may be the where the line is officially crossed.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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