DETROIT — The best example of a dinosaurs-vs.-disrupters battle may be the race to deploy self-driving vehicles between General Motors Co. and Google L.L.C. spinoff Waymo.
Both have emerged as leaders. Both are playing to their strengths. Both are spending billions to expand development and testing to fend off traditional competitors such as Ford Motor Co. and many auto suppliers that other auto makers are counting on for off-the-shelf autonomous vehicle systems.
"I would definitely put GM and Waymo at the top of the heap in readiness of technology but also figuring out the business side of it," said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst at Navigant Research.
The companies are taking different routes, and it won't be clear for some time which, if either, will emerge as king of the hill. It may come down to which has the better virtual reality setup. Or which can turn the technology into a consumer product the quickest.
"The technology is just one piece of the puzzle," Mr. Abuelsamid said. "Ultimately, you have to figure out how you're going to make a business out of that technology."
Here's how their strategies break down:
Google's self-driving car project, now known as Waymo, is using its software, computing and data resources to create what it calls "the world's most experienced driver." The Mountain View, Calif., company is relying on traditional auto makers to assemble vehicles, and focusing its expertise on building the self-driving car platform.
It has been working on self-driving vehicles for a decade and plans to release its first public autonomous ride-hailing fleet this year in Arizona.