Google Inc. has recently been in the news for its tests of a driverless car, according to reports by the Los Angeles Times. Although the car can drive itself, the car needs to have an operator in the driver’s seat. If something goes wrong, the operator needs to be able to take control and drive the car as normal.
The car utilizes lasers, video cameras, GPS and radio sensors to determine how fast and where to go. Public reaction has been mixed, with some people loving the idea of taking human error out of driving and others questioning the safety of the car, according to SFGate.
Google is not the first company to be considered to have a main business and then branch out to an entirely different business.
In 1927, the company that would become the Columbia Broadcasting System debuted on the radio, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The Columbia Broadcasting System, better known today as CBS, in the 1940s slowly began shifting to being a television network, including experiments with color broadcasting. CBS owned Columbia Records at one time, and the company has been involved with short-term ventures including publishing, home videos, movies, owning the New York Yankees and magazines. Those ventures were less successful and were eventually sold to other corporations.
Best known for photography products, Eastman Kodak branched out with an innovative line of digital products. Eastman Kodak was established in 1888 with sales of brownie cameras, according to Kodak’s website. The camera would be shipped back to the company for film development. Over the years, Kodak was in the business of selling cameras, film, photography paper, development chemicals and movie cameras. From its starting point of brownie cameras, Eastman Kodak branched out to cover a wide variety of medical and pharmaceutical products, including X-ray products, dry chemistry blood serum analysis methods, thermoplastic used to manufacture bottles, mammography machines and cancer and dental imaging systems. Additionally, Eastman Kodak has evolved to keep up with the digital photography and home printing capabilities as they have developed.
Milton Hershey began making chocolate coated caramels in 1984, according to the website for the Hershey Company. Within six years, he had a factory making several chocolate candies in mass production. Hershey had an idea to create an industrial town. This would include schools, stores and an amusement park. The Hershey Trust was created to oversee this endeavor.
Today, according to the Hershey Trust website, the Hershey Trust Company oversees the Milton Hershey School, has a large share of the Theater, the Gardens, the Museum, Entertainment and Resorts and a large share of the Hershey Company. From the beginnings of a small caramel maker, Milton Hershey created a dynasty including an amusement park and an international candy factory.
Each company had a different level of success. What these successful products had in common was that the market was ready for the new products. If Kodak and CBS did not adapt to new technology, the companies would have failed. Google is likely to have a lot of interest in its new car. There is a market that is likely ready for cars that allow for distracted drivers and reduce crashes. Time will only tell if Google’s car will be accepted by people, or if Google is too far ahead of its time for this invention.
Wagner, D. “Google is testing robot cars that navigate interstates and city streets without a human touch”, Los Angeles Times.
Kershner, Vlae. “Google’s ‘driverless car’ tests: Cool, but not everyone on board: Hot Topics”, SFGate
“History of Kodak”, Kodak.
Auster, Albert. Columbia Broadcast System Museum of Broadcast Communications.
“Company History”, Hershey’s.
“About Hershey Trust Company”, Hershey Trust Company.