Uber Is Losing The Self Driving Car War. Is It Too Late To Catch Up?

Remember how Eric Schmidt spent years sitting on the Apple board, quietly learning everything about the iPhone — and then, presto, Google suddenly came out with Android and it looked a whole lot like the iPhone operating system and Steve Jobs went nuts on Schmidt for being such a sneaky, backstabbing son of a bitch?

Well, Google just snuck up on another victim. This time it's Uber.

BusinessWeek reports that "Google is preparing to offer its own ride-hailing service." Google's service will involve self-driving cars. In theory that could make the service cheaper and better than Uber. There would also be less chance of getting assaulted by a driver. On the other hand, in the Google car you will probably be bombarded with ads.

You didn't think Google was just making those crazy little robot cars just for fun, did you? Widespread rollout might be a few years away, but Googlers are already using the service, supposedly. And Uber has seen screenshots of the app.

What makes this a lot more interesting and backstabby is that Google has been an investor in Uber, which has given Google access to all sorts of inside information about Uber. Worse, Google's chief counsel, David Drummond, has been on Uber's board of directors since 2013. Now Uber is thinking about throwing Drummond off the board, and so they should!

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Meanwhile Uber is now desperately racing to catch up by making its own self-driving cars. According to TechCrunch, Uber just gutted the legendary robotics department at Carnegie Mellon University to get them cranking on an autonomous car for Uber.

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This might be a case of too little too late. Google has a huge head start. Moreover, Uber depends on Google Maps. So breaking off from Google would mean not only creating autonomous cars but also finding a new maps partner.

The only question now is this: Does Google buy Uber, or just kill it?

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