How many of us have been concerned about the “auto-braking” deal on new cars? Imagine yourself, driving along and your car screeches to a dead stop…because of a rabbit. Not that we don’t like rabbits, but saving that particular rabbit cost you the back half of your car and gave you a horrible case of whiplash when the guy behind you slammed into your rear.
So, what does that have to do with your marketing plan? Hang tight.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have heard about the Google Self-Driving Car Project. Google aims to have cars that drive you where you want to go with the “push of a button”. Google has retrofitted a bunch of “Prius-es” with an auto-driver system. What else would a company whose average employee is about 30 years old choose? To be fair, they also have multiple Lexus models.
Supposedly, the car’s software uses map and sensor info to figure out where it is, what’s in the way, and what those things are going to do. We say “supposedly” because in February, a Google car that was test-driving itself “detected” an obstacle. The obstacle that the car detected was a group of sandbags piled around a storm drain. The Google car drove itself around the sandbags, right into something that it didn’t detect. A bus.
It was the first Google-caused accident in the history of the project and since it was a slow-moving collision, no one was hurt. The car was going about 2mph and the bus only 15…but still.
Google’s response was amusing. They said – that the test driver thought the bus was going to slow down or stop to allow the Google car to merge…really? Funny because the “test driver” wasn’t driving…and who (besides a car) thinks that a bus will slow down or stop to allow a car to merge in front of it?
Only 4 states are technically allowing Google to test its cars on public roads – Arizona, Florida, Nevada and of course, California but the Beverly Hills city council has said they want to investigate using driverless cars as a public transportation solution. Let’s pause for a moment.
Beverly Hills…yes, that one….is considering driverless cars…as a solution to public transportation? Public transportation in Beverly Hills? We are sure you can appreciate the conflict in all of that.
Google isn’t the only one planning for driverless cars either. Pretty much every car maker and a few other companies are working on some version of autopilot – including Bosch, Delphi, Mercedes and Daimler, Volvo, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Toyota, Renault (did anyone know this one was still in business?) and even Ford and GM. The first entry on the market however, was super-luxury, super-tech automaker, Tesla.
Other locales have said “no way” to the fully driverless car – including Austin, Texas which was one of the first participants in Google Fiber and is home of the hipster-friendly South by Southwest movie/music festival and SXSW tech conference – where Google’s accident was discussed last month. While the Seattle of the South has been quick to adopt Uber, Google cars aren’t allowed. Do we need to say yet? OK, yet.
Fully automatic cars like Google’s aren’t allowed on a lot of streets, but rather than waiting until autopilot was all-grown up, Tesla went ahead and pushed out their version. Last fall, a video claiming to show Tesla’s autopilot saving an Uber driver from a car accident went viral. Within 24 hours, super-dork Consumer Reports testily published an article to clarify that it wasn’t “autopilot” that saved the driver, it was “forward-collision auto-braking”. Whatever.
Google’s car is a lot more advanced than Tesla’s but as Google’s crash proved, cars can’t yet predict what other moving objects are going to do (even something the size of a bus) and other moving objects (e.g. bus drivers in surrounding vehicles) can’t predict what your auto piloted car is going to do.
Google’s idea is that you get into the car and tell it where you want it to go. On the way, the car suggests that you stop for coffee. Where do they suggest you stop? Two guesses – and both would be right.
First – the car can suggest a particular coffee shop because it knows that you like that coffee shop. It also knows what kind of lunch you like to eat, where you take your dry cleaning, what time you need to be picked up. How does it know? Data of course. It collects information about things you have done in the past.
It also communicates with your phone, knows your internet search history, how much time you spend on Facebook, what you talk about while in the car. By checking with that internet-connected refrigerator of yours, it even knows when you are out of mayonnaise…and what brand you buy. The Google car is just one more of the “internet of things” and every one of those things is collecting information.
Some have suggested that cars start communicating with one another to improve safety. Which means the car next to you will also have all of that information. What does the next car do with knowledge about your preferred brand of shampoo? Not sure – but something.
A recent congressional committee hearing addressed just this issue. How much information is Google going to collect and who are they going to share it with? Google’s response? “No comment.”
Second (and this is where it impacts you)- The car can also suggest local businesses to frequent because of…Google advertising!
What’s the point?
Pretty obvious, we think.
Google collects data. They use it to “improve” the internet. It may seem like they are just trying to keep everyone confused but behind all that confusion is reality – advertising.
With everyone on mobile, not only do websites have to run at light-speed, search is making a big shift. Google searches using voice are up by 65% – and going higher. With more people using voice, fewer people are typing – or reading the text on the search page. This means visual advertising is more important (hopefully not while driving – hence the Google car).
Even though things are changing and Google is super confusing, you have to keep up with your Google strategy. If you don’t, the driverless car will bypass your business.
Pretty dramatic but just like everything else gives up to Google, those automakers “inventing the wheel” with their own autopilot programs will probably end up using Google….or the Facebook car.
Actually, we haven’t heard about a Facebook car. Yet.
The only thing that keeps Facebook from “eating the internet” is Google. Together, Google and Facebook account for about 70% of ad spend today. You have to do both.