Google’s self-driving car is “close to graduating from X,” according to Astro Teller, who leads the secretive moonshot laboratory. The Verge reports that the autonomous vehicles are almost ready to become a profit-driving business.
It’s still unclear how Google’s parent company Alphabet actually plans to make money off the technology. The self-driving cars could operate as a futuristic taxi fleet within set areas like a college or a large corporate campus. Eventually you may even be able to buy one for personal use, but it could be years before they’re considered street legal in most of the world.
Google is also planning a big reveal on Wednesday’s episode of NBC Nightly News, which will offer an inside look at the X division. The group is working on a variety of ambitious projects, including internet-providing balloons (Project Loon) and delivery drones (Project Wing). Teller says he actively encourages employees to try crazy ideas even if they crash and burn in the end.
The race to perfect the self-driving car is heating up quickly. Google is already competing with Tesla and Uber, along with Chinese firms like Baidu and LeEco. Then there’s Apple’s mysterious car project, which may or may not have a self-driving element. So it makes sense that the company would want to rush this one out of X and into the market as soon as possible.
The news amid rumors from CNBC that Google is also in “advanced” talks with Fiat Chrysler for some form of partnership.