Who owns the data in self-driving cars?

Written by on May 9, 2016 in News with 0 Comments
Windsor Assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Windsor Assembly plant in Windsor, Ontario, May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

WINDSOR, Ont. (Reuters) – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Alphabet Inc’s Google have yet to determine who would own data collected in their collaboration on self-driving vehicles, FCA Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said Friday.

“That’s exactly what has to be determined,” Marchionne said in response to a reporter’s question on data ownership. “We need to get to a stage where the car is viable so we can discuss the spoils of that work. We’re not there.”

Earlier this week, FCA and Google announced they agreed to fit Google’s self-driving technology into 100 Chrysler Pacifica minivans, marking the first time a Silicon Valley firm has teamed up with a traditional carmaker to develop an autonomous vehicle.

Marchionne said there are many aspects of the project with Google that have yet to be determined, such as whether the two will develop an open-source software platform that could be shared with others.

Marchionne said what has been agreed so far with Google is limited, but he suggested that the alliance could evolve.

“The objective of this first phase of our collaboration is very targeted,” Marchionne said at a news conference at FCA’s Windsor plant. “It’s designed to take Google technology into the minivan. It’s very, very focused. It has a very clear objective and a very clear timeline. What develops from here, we’ll see.”

Google declined to comment.

Marchionne said FCA has been purposely restrained in comparison with other automakers that have bought Silicon Valley companies to speed development of self-driving vehicles.

Lack of clarity over the question of who owns data in a collaboration with Google is one of the reasons most big automakers have refrained from tying up with the Silicon Valley giant.

“It’s too early in this process to try and make the call about who is going to end up with sort of the winning solution,” Marchionne said.

Marchionne said he has noticed “efforts by others to pre-empt what I consider to be a natural evolution of choices and so making unequivocal bets with companies who are in that space today, and effectively precluding the development with others is a very dangerous bet.”

Marchionne did not name those companies.

In March, General Motors Co <GM.N> agreed to acquire San Francisco self-driving car startup Cruise Automation. Daimler AG, BMW and Volkswagen AG last year bought digital mapping company HERE to accelerate their autonomous driving development.

This week, Ford Motor Co said it would invest $182 million in San Francisco-based Pivotal Software, to boost Ford’s software capabilities.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang)

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