Google is building its own ride hailing service, according to a Bloomberg report. The company will likely be integrating its service with its self-driving car technology.
There’s a pretty big conflict of interest here. Namely, Google Ventures is one of Uber’s big investors, and Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond serves on Uber’s board. That’s apparently how the news got out: Drummond told Uber what was happening, and now, Uber is weighing whether he can stay on the board, reported Bloomberg.
The news comes in the same hour as a TechCrunch report that Uber hired 50 senior scientists from Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics branch to develop its own self-driving car. It looks like the two companies are settling down to do battle over the logistics and transportation space.
It’s a big shift from Uber and Google’s prior relationship, which was quite cozy. Google spurned Uber competitors Lyft and Sidecar by integrating only Uber into its Google Maps’ directions feature. Google’s venture arm invested in Uber in the comparatively early Series C investment, leading the $258 million round.
Google believes it’s less than five years away from bringing its driverless cars to market. At the moment, the vehicles’ speed is capped at 25 miles an hour. As the technology develops and the cars get faster, however, the next obvious step is to shlep people about.
The fact that Google is already working on such a service, means the gauntlet has been thrown. Game on Uber.
This story is developing and we’ll update as we get more information.