Our story begins in 2009.
It was only eight years ago, but so much has happened since then.
At that time, we were in the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The idea of calling an Uber using your smartphone was still about a year away from happening. And a niche electric carmaker, Tesla, had just received a major cash infusion to pull the struggling company from the brink of bankruptcy.
That’s also when search engine giant Google launched its self-driving car project.
If you recall, at the time, the idea of robot cars still seemed like science fiction – a long way out in the future. And any work being done in this space was primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.
That’s what makes Google’s foray into this space so remarkable. Here was this young private-sector company willing to put significant resources into what the firm has described as a “moon shot.” This bet on autonomous vehicles represented an unprecedented level of commitment by the private sector for an unproven, highly expensive technology.
But today that bet is starting to pay off with wide-ranging ramifications.