Google (News - Alert)'s self-driving car project, part of its Google X lab, has a new leader. The search giant recently announced that it has added John Krafcik as its CEO. This will not move the project into its own, stand-alone company, but it will provide some leadership that has seen decades of experience in the automotive industry.
Mashable notes that Krafcik has previously held senior positions at TrueCar and Hyundai and that, before those 10-plus years, he held a position at Ford (News - Alert). As part of the switch in chain of command, Krafcik will replace Chris Urmson, who will move to the position of technical director.
In a statement, Krafcik noted his excitement to join the project and lead Google past the initial hurdles it has experienced as one of the newest automobile technology developers in the world.
“This is a great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” Krafcik said. “This technology can save thousands of lives, give millions of people greater mobility, and free us from a lot of the things we find frustrating about driving today. I can’t wait to get started.”
His position will not begin until later this month.
Google will soon experience some real-road competition by way of the Apple (News - Alert) car. Like Google X, Apple has its Special Projects team, and that team has reportedly created an autonomous vehicle of its own. Special Projects has been working at the GoMentum Station—a former naval base which the U.S. military still guards—that contains about 20 miles of paved highways and city streets.
Mashable also noted Tesla's and Toyota's efforts to create their own self-driving prototypes. Needless to say, this is no longer Google's own show; the company will need to continue its solid track record in order to remain competitive. Krafcik will enter a field that comprises many players; however, he will also inherit a history of success as a pioneering company in this field, so he shouldn't be shaking in his boots.