In an interview with Fortune’s Miguel Helft, Google CEO Larry Page finally explained why Google is so obsessed with self-driving cars.
“We want to do things that will motivate the most amazing people in the world to want to work on them. You look at self-driving cars. You know a lot of people die, and there’s a lot of wasted labour. The better transportation you have, the more choice in jobs. And that’s social good. That’s probably an economic good. I like it when we’re picking problems like that: big things where technology can have a really big impact. And we’re pretty sure we can do it. And whatever the technology investment we need to do that, it’s not going to be that huge compared to the payoff.”
Here says that self-driving cars will have lots of hidden economic benefits. For example, Page says it will save Google “hundreds of millions of dollars” on parking alone.
“One of the issues we face here is parking. I’m getting quotes [for] the cost for us to build a parking lot structure [of] $40,000 per space. It’s all concrete and steel. Do you really want to use all your concrete and steel to build parking lots? It seems pretty stupid. If we have automated cars, or even if we have some fraction of automated cars, we’ll save hundreds of millions of dollars on parking, just at Google. When you think about your experience, the car can drop you at the front door to the building you work at and then it goes and parks itself. Whenever you need it, your phone notices that you’re walking out of the building, and your car’s there immediately by the time you get downstairs.”