Google’s self-driving car









Is the future of automotive transportation finally here? Perhaps. While it doesn’t yet include the flying cars we may have dreamed of when we were children, nonetheless our cars are getting more innovative and are getting some very unusual new features. The most unusual new feature demonstrated recently by Google is the “driverless” car. Google has been working on prototypes of the driverless car since 2010.

The company recently released a new video of the car being “driven” by a blind driver. Although the car still has the common features we expect to see – such as a steering wheel – it has new capabilities that can improve safety and mobility. The car safely transported its “driver” on his daily errands, including a trip to Taco Bell’s drive-thru for lunch.

New technology is not unusual for Detroit’s auto manufacturers. The automotive companies have been adding automated features as well as new initiatives for safety and entertainment. But are they ready for the next revolution in driving?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Show the video to start the discussion:
  2. Ask students if they would ever consider buying a driverless car. Why or why not?
  3. Discuss the role of product innovations for Google. The company has traditionally only been in software. Why is it expanding into hardware products?
  4. Discuss if this is a viable product to market.
  5. Who is the target market?
  6. How could this product be marketed?
  7. What are potential obstacles for marketing the product? (e.g., insurance, service, etc.)
  8. What are the implications of the driverless car for Detroit auto manufacturers? Global implications?
  9. What are the new technologies that car manufacturers have already implemented (i.e., GPS, phones)? How have these technologies changed consumer expectations?
  10. What are the implications for Google’s business strategy?

Source:,4/27/12; – news announcements; Los Angeles Times




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