Google to Team With German Auto Parts Group for Self-Driving Cars (Report)

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Continental, Europe's second-largest car parts maker, is reportedly close to a deal with Google and IBM to develop autonomous driving systems.

COLOGNE, Germany – In what could be a major step forward to the sci-fi world of self-driving cars, German car parts supplier Continental is reportedly close to a deal with Google and IBM to develop autonomous driving systems.

German daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, quoting anonymous industry sources, said Continental will likely unveil the two agreements at the Frankfurt Car Show in September.

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Continental, Europe's second largest auto parts maker, already has a pact in place with networks equipment maker Cisco Systems to develop systems for automated and driverless automobiles and on data transfer between cars.

Self-driving technology has been a pet project of Google co-founder Sergey Brin for several years now with Google testing its fleet of self-driving cars on California roadways. But Brin has also insisted Google was not interested in building a self-driving car itself, preferring to work with established industry players to co-develop the necessary technology.

Hanover-based Continental, which makes everything from tires to brakes and stability control systems for cars and trucks, could be an ideal partner for the Internet giant and push the idea of self-driving cars into the mainstream.

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“This could be the kick in the pants driverless cars need to get further into the mainstream consciousness,” wrote Brandon Turkus, Associate Editor at car news website, commenting on the reported deal.

The newspaper article speculates that Continental, which has a large in-house team of developers already working on self-driving technology, would deliver the steering systems needed for robot cars. IBM would likely handle backend communication via a high-speed data server crunching real-time road and car information system, with Google delivering navigation, traffic and online tech.

Continental declined comment but shares in the publicly-traded firm were up nearly 1.5 percent in early trading Thursday.

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