Google has done a good job of associating itself with driverless cars and stirring the public’s imagination for what many say is the inevitable day when we can work, eat, and even sleep in our cars as they drive themselves. As it readies a prototype fleet of self-driven cars without steering wheels, gas pedals, or brakes, the search engine giant has demonstrated how its autonomous Toyota and Lexus cars using Google’s technology have successfully logged thousands of miles on California roads.
Indeed, Google has already become a recognized brand in a car segment that has yet to see commercialization. However, its role in the market will probably be relegated to the less visible function as that of a software player as self-driven cars begin to see commercial launch by 2020.
By funding the publicity campaign showing how driverless cars are viable and safe, Google is helping to create demand for software it will almost certainly look to license in the future. The company will likely seek to define driverless cars as it did the smartphone market with Android, by creating and licensing the OS on which autonomous car software and components are designed.