Chris Urmson, the mild-mannered robotics expert who ran Google’s self-driving car project, used to say that when his son reached driving age in 2019 the technology would be available so the teenager wouldn’t have to take a driving test.
Other top technologists have also departed and progress has been slow. Once considered a leader in the field, Google has lost its first-mover advantage to other companies pursuing more practical, less-ambitious self-driving car services, said former members of the project and other people familiar with the situation. They asked not to be identified because details of the effort are private.
“They need a partner, a sales force, a strategy,” said Roger Lanctot, associate director of Strategy Analytics’ Global Automotive Practice.
Google’s project started in 2009, long before carmakers and most other companies seriously considered the technology. But when Singapore unveiled the first autonomous taxi service in August,
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