GM open to working with Google on developing self-driving cars

January 13, 2015, 12:46 PM UTC

General Motors is open to working with Google on developing self-driving car technology, the chief technology officer for the U.S. automaker said on Monday.

“I’m not in charge of deciding what we will and won’t do, but I’d say we’d certainly be open to having a discussion with them,” Jon Lauckner said in an interview at the Detroit auto show.

Lauckner made his comments two days before the head of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, is scheduled to speak at a conference held annually in conjunction with the auto show. Urmson is expected to announce his company’s plans to seek partnerships within the auto industry.

Self-driving cars have been a hot topic for both companies in recent months. GM (GM) CEO Mary Barra made headlines in the fall when she said that some GM cars would have limited driverless tech, such as the ability to detect pedestrians, by 2017. She also announced that GM would be part of the team building 120 miles of so-called “autonomous” highway — roads with sensors that enable communication between cars — around Detroit.

And Google’s (GOOG) driverless car ambitions are well-known. Just last month, the Silicon Valley giant unveiled the first fully-functioning prototype of a driverless car. This model doesn’t really look like any car you’ve seen on the road, and certainly doesn’t look like something GM would produce — it looks more like something you’d see in a 1960s science fiction movie.

Combining these two perspectives and histories — GM’s ability to make cars that people actually want to buy with Google’s ability to innovate and push the technology envelope — could make a lot of sense in terms of ushering in the future of autonomous cars. Just how an arrangement might work, though, is a question.

“You have to figure out how would something like that actually work,” Lauckner said. “Would it be something where it would be an opportunity to work together in a joint development agreement?”

—Reuters contributed to this report.