Tech major Google has denied media reports that it is preparing to launch a ride-hailing service, posing direct competition to Uber.
"We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well," the company said in its official @google Twitter account. "We use them all the time."
Bloomberg, citing a person close to the Uber board, earlier reported that Google has informed Uber's board of this possibility. Furthermore, Uber executives have seen screenshots of a ride-sharing app that is currently being used by Google employees.
Google's venture capital arm invested $258m in Uber in August 2013 – its largest investment deal ever. In addition, Google took part in Uber's next funding round less than a year later.
David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer and senior vice president of corporate development, has been serving on the Uber board of directors since 2013. Given the new Google plans, the Uber board is now weighing whether to ask Drummond to resign his position, according to the Bloomberg source.
Bloomberg recalled Chris Urmson, the Google executive in charge of its driverless car technology project, saying at the Detroit auto show about a feature which enables autonomous vehicles to pick up and drop off passengers.
"We're thinking a lot about how in the long-term, this might become useful in people's lives, and there are a lot of ways we can imagine this going," Urmson said.
"One is in the direction of the shared vehicle. The technology would be such that you can call up the vehicle and tell it where to go and then have it take you there."
If Google becomes a direct competitor, Uber may lose access to Google maps that power Uber's smartphone applications for drivers and riders. Google maps' alternatives such as AOL's MapQuest, Apple Maps and a number of regional applications are seen as inferior.