Self-driving cars are the wave of the future, sooner, not later. The trend is now impossible to deny. The only question that remains pertains to the speed of the rollout.

2020 is no longer a pipe dream as many thought. 2030 is far too distant.

The breathtaking speed of possibilities can be seen in a non-exclusive announcement Google Partners with Ford on Self-Driving Vehicles.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, Yahoo Autos reports the partnership is equally beneficial for both parties, with Ford getting a boost in self-driving software development and Google gaining access to invaluable automobile manufacturing expertise.

Ford just this month announced plans to begin field tests of prototype self-driving vehicles in California. Google, on the other hand, has a fleet of 53 cars that have together clocked more than a million miles on public roads in San Francisco and Austin, Texas.

Google’s tie-up with Ford is not exclusive, the report notes, meaning deals with other car makers could be in the works.

The world’s largest and most profitable tech company, Apple, is also rumored to be working on its own automobile project in secret. Dubbed Project Titan, AppleInsider sources indicate Apple’s skunkworks initiative is currently operating out of a secret lab near the company’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.

While Apple has yet to comment on Titan – CEO Tim Cook actively dodged questions in a “60 Minutes interview” – the company has made numerous hires from the auto industry, including former Tesla engineers and software developers working on autonomous technologies.

The big splash will not be personal vehicles, but rather the loss of millions of long-haul truck jobs and short-haul taxi jobs to automation.

Those jobs will vanish by 2025 at the latest. Something between 2020 and 2022 seems more likely, and even 2020 would not be much of a surprise given the speed of announcements.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock