Amit Singhal, Google’s Former Head of Search Joins Uber

Amit Singhal
Google and Uber, two bitter rivals, seems like a statement that’s a bit difficult to swallow doesn’t it. Google which beat Apple last year to become the world’s largest company and currently the number 2 on the world’s most valuable brand, valued at 82.5 billion USD, what possible rivalry could it have with the online transportation network company based in San Francisco? Google even invested in the up and coming company back in 2013. Well the rivalry lies in the new innovations both of these companies are spending huge amounts of R&D on. It all started back in early 2015 when Uber announced the plans to develop self autonomous, or self driving cars. However up till then, Google was the only major company that was working on self driving cars, in fact it was sort of a pet project of theirs, and everyone knows that Google’s pet projects eventually turn in to huge products that create an insatiable demand.

Now Uber has struck where it just might hurt a bit for Google, they recently welcomed onboard Amit Singhal, who was the former senior vice president for search at Google. Amit departed from Google less than a year ago to pursue philanthropy in India via the foundation he and his wife set up, and to “spend more time with the family”. His foundation works to provide high quality education to the students who were unable to provide it for themselves. According to Singhal, the foundation is at point where it’s running day to day operations can take care of themselves and do not need his monitoring anymore. So where does Uber come in? Well according to Singhal he met Travis Kalanick, the co-founder of Uber, through a mutual friend of theirs.

This meeting resulted in an exchange of ideas between the search expert and the founder of the largest online transportation network in the world, on the technical challenges and Uber’s goals. According to Singhal, the engineering challenges that Uber faces are what drew him in. He said in an interview “Those computer science challenges for a computer science geek are just intriguing – you give a geek a puzzle, they can’t drop it; they need to solve the puzzle. That’s how it felt to me.” He added “So between things going very well at the foundation, and me actually deeply understanding what Travis and the team here at Uber are trying to do, and how much deep computing, machine learning and artificial intelligence it will take to actually build the dream that this company has, this was something that I couldn’t say no to.”

Now Singhal, heading the companies Maps and Marketplace division, joins Brian McClendon, who once ran Google’s entire mapping division and Manik Gupta, the former head of Google Maps product division, will help develop autonomous vehicles for Uber. And right at the time when Uber has just pushed $500 million to build a map of the entire world, a crucial step toward using self driving car. According to news desk of The Academic Papers UK, Singhal says he looks forward to the challenges ahead, he said ““It’s hard enough to connect millions of drivers to millions of riders in real time while creating optimal routes for drivers”, he also said “Add to that the twist of predicting real-time traffic, pooling multiple riders and making the system economically attractive for everyone — and now you have one of the most challenging computer science problems I’ve encountered in my thirty-year career.”

Now this means serious competition for Google. Uber has already a lot of plans implemented such as the UberPOOL, that tries to predict the address at the spot from regular users to optimize routes, and also will swap drivers and riders prior to pick-ups if it determines that a new rider or driver who’s just come online will be better positioned in terms of maximizing route efficiency. The number of factors that a computer system has to take into consideration to make those kinds of decisions, and make them effectively, is jaw dropping. Singhal also said “The challenge is deeply technical, deeply scientific and we will have to do engineering work that has never been done before, combined with science that has not been built yet,” he said. “All of that combines with the fact that my parents are in their mid- to late-70s, and their mobility is going down – I don’t want them to lose their mobility. This is real, it impacts real lives, which makes it so much more important that we all get together to solve this problem for the world.”

Now, Mr. Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive is also very pleased with the new comer He says, “I love Amit’s excitement for solving complex computer science problems and his passion for helping improve people’s lives through technology,” Mr. Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said in a statement. “The team at Uber, myself included, will learn a lot from him.” Back in September last year Uber first started its autonomous car pilot in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, It launched another fleet in San Francisco in December, but a regulatory feud with Californian regulators over Uber's failure to submit proper permitting forced the company to take its self driving, test cars off the streets.

So what does this mean for Google. Well this is quite a severe blow to the search giant. However, Google does not have to worry about it just yet, they are ahead of Uber with Waymo, the new name for their self driving car technology, with Google Maps already their own complete product as the back bone for mapping and guidance. It will take Uber some time to complete the system and stop relying on Google maps once and for all. This is a relatively new field with these two rival companies heading the research number in the whole world right now. Google has already ditched plans to build a self driving car itself this December, and will instead partner up with other vehicle companies. It plans to bring a completely self driving car to the consumer by 2020. So this will be an interesting race for the next 4-5 years.
Amit Singhal, Google’s Former Head of Search Joins Uber Amit Singhal, Google’s Former Head of Search Joins Uber Reviewed by Emma Charlotte on December 23, 2019 Rating: 5