Google has refocused its autonomous driving efforts away from developing its own car without a steering wheel and pedals, according to a report from The Information. Instead, the company is said to be partnering with automakers on more conventional cars with a view to possibly launching an autonomous ride-sharing service by the end of next year.
Fiat Chrysler is producing a new prototype vehicle for Google based on the Pacifica minivan; if the testing is successful, they’ll reportedly be used in the eventual commercial service. The two companies announced a partnership to develop self-driving minivans in May.
Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat are said to be behind the decision to pivot, believing the existing plan of self-producing a radically new car without a steering wheel to be impractical. It’s reportedly a controversial move inside Google X’s autonomous driving division, known as Chauffeur, with Google co-founder Sergey Brin also in favor of the idea of developing a car from end to end.
Google is expected to announce news related to self-driving cars later on Tuesday — we’ll keep you updated.