Google to battle Uber for riders? Not yet

If the rumors are true that Google aims to go to war against Uber by entering the ride-hailing business, Google’s executive chairman was showing a great poker face at a televised event Monday.

“Google is a part-owner of Uber,” said Eric Schmidt, extolling the societal benefits of ride-hailing apps and revealing no clues that his company is looking to break its Uber ties.

The Google executive made his remarks during a “fireside chat” about the future of American transportation with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. The chat happened not long after Bloomberg reported on its website that Google plans to compete with Uber by developing its own ride-hailing technology. The idea is that ride-hailing and automation will one day be paired so that a rider can easily summon a self-driving car.

Google appeared eager to tamp down the rumors of a split, responding to Bloomberg with an enigmatic tweet that said, “We think you’ll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time.”

Along with being a major Uber investor and having a top executive, David Drummond, on Uber’s board, Google also integrates Uber with some of its own services, such as Google Maps.

Uber, on the other hand, reinforced the growing competition by announcing on its blog on Monday the creation of an Uber Advanced Technologies Center at Carnegie Mellon University that will work on autonomous cars.

The Wall Street Journal refuted some of the rumors, describing them as “blown out of proportion,” but also noted a greater distance between the two companies.

Above: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (at left) and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (center) listen to Chris Urmson, director of Google’s self-driving car project, discuss the vehicle Monday at the Google campus in Mountain View. (Karl Mondon/Mercury News)


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