If a report is correct, Google has begun work on a ride-hailing service that could one day rival Uber, Lyft, Gett and others.
Google, through its venture capital arm, invested US$258 million ($330 million) in Uber in August 2013 and has a seat on its board, which is currently filled by David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer.
A source, who requested anonymity, has told Bloomberg that Uber’s board and executive team have been shown screenshots of a ride-sharing app being developed within Google. The business website believes that Uber is currently deliberating as to whether Drummond should vacate his seat on the ride-hailing firm’s board.
According to sources who have spoken to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s ride-sharing application is actually just an app that assists Google employees to arrange carpools to and from work.
Uber has yet to issue a statement on the matter. After the story broke, Google sent out a tweet stating: “We think you’ll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time.”
Chris Urmson, the man in charge of Google’s self-driving car project, said on the record earlier this year: “We’re thinking a lot about how, in the long-term, this might become useful in people’s lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going. One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there.”
Uber announced last week that it would form the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The primary aim of the partnership is “to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology”.