The Self-Driving Car Showdown, Google Vs. Uber

Carpool; it’s a rite of passage for every parent. The constant driving to and from school, soccer practice, and piano lessons is in and of itself a full-time job. Since most parents spend more time than they’d like in their car, a safe driverless car would be a gleefully accepted gift. Fortunately, for new and future parents-to-be, carpooling may no longer be among your future duties as a parent.


Self-driving technology is closer to fruition than it’s ever been before, which means owning your own driverless car may be within reach. Now that we know that the future will, almost inevitably, include self-driving cars, the question becomes who will be the tech-giant to make it happen first?


Google’s Waymo


While you may not have heard of the company before, Waymo is a frontrunner in the development of the self-driving car. The company is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet and has been developing self-driving car technology for nearly a decade. Alphabet created Waymo as a means to license their driverless technology to pre-existing vehicle manufacturers that want to develop their own self-driving cars.


For example, if Honda wanted to manufacture a self-driving vehicle, without investing millions of dollars in research and development, they would simply pay a licensing fee to Waymo to use their technology.


If self-driving cars are the wave of the future, Waymo stands to make some big bucks through these types of licensing deals. However, Uber’s focus on self-driving technology may threaten Waymo’s share of the market.


Uber Road Tests


It’s no secret that Uber has been in the process of researching, developing, and testing technology for self-driving vehicles. However, unlike Google who plans to license their technology to pre-existing car manufacturers, Uber plans to utilize their technology for something a bit closer to home.


If Uber were to successfully develop and implement self-driving technology, it would eliminate their need for Uber drivers. This would put 100 percent of ride revenue in their pocket, rather than the pocket of the quirky guy that drove you home from happy hour last week. Clearly, eliminating the need to share a piece of the pie with drivers has been a driving factor in their efforts to put driverless Uber vehicles on the road (pun intended).


Although Uber has been road testing their self-driving vehicles across America, recently leaked reports suggest that their technology isn’t quite so perfect. According to leaked internal documents, safety drivers have to intervene on average, once every 0.8 miles. While it’s not clear exactly what intervene means, it’s pretty safe to say that a driverless car that requires human intervention every mile, isn’t fit for the road.


The Showdown


While a rivalry between two tech giants isn’t exactly breaking news, the possibility that Uber may have stolen trade secrets from Waymo just might be. Waymo claims that ex-top executive in Google’s self-driving car division,  Anthony Levandowski stole their technology. After leaving Google, Levandowski started his own self-driving truck business, Otto, which was bought by Uber last year. Now, Levandowski is a top executive in Uber’s self-driving car division. Interesting!


People often say that there are no shortcuts to any place worth going. Time will only tell whether this will ring true for Uber and their alleged technological shortcut.


Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.

FamilyTech Guest