Google’s Larry Page on transportation, self-driving cars and bikes

Last week’s TED2014 event featured Google CEO Larry Page, who was sharing his and the company’s vision on a list of subjects including the direction of Google, the NSA, curing disease and the future of transportation. The latter of course is the subject where the interview immediately caught our attention. That part starts at 15:13 in the video above. 

Page introduced the subject by explaining where his motivation for developing a self-driving car came from. As a student, waiting for a bus, in a cold harsh Michigan winter, he was triggered by the idea of an autonomous vehicle. Adding, that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 34. Automated cars would fix this, he says. Page has already driven 100.000 miles in one and public availability is just a couple of years away. Another pressing reason for self-driving cars is that half of Los Angeles is parking lots and highways, says Page.

At first the automotive industry was looking at the Google car project with Argus’ eyes , but now the leading manufacturers are taking initiatves and have plans in place to introduce some form of self-driving cars in the coming decade. For the mobility industry in a broader sense the sting was in the tail of Page’s statement about transportation. Google sees bikes as the opportunity to relieve the pressure on the transportation system. They want to expand the Google bike project, which makes bikes available at the Google campus, to other communities. Or as Page says it: “free bikes for everyone.”

Google Bike

Public bikes capturing car parking space at Google’s headquarter in Mountain View California. Will we see this picture in cities around the world any time soon?

Every country or region has its local bike brands, which are locally designed and manufactured. Sometimes the frames are produced in Asian factories, but then most of the time the final bike is assembled somewhere else. What do you think? Is Google’s plan – free bikes for everyone –  a threat to local bike brands or an opportunity?

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