Look around. There may be self-driving cars speeding past you, right now. (At least in the testing phase.) Surprised? Here’s a rundown on which makers and tech firms are exploring self-driving cars.
BMW has plans to beat Uber in the ride transportation service with their self-driving car test in Munich. Their program is called ReachNow.
Nissan is partnering with Microsoft for their self-driving cars and are anticipating their release by 2020.
This auto dealer is focusing on self-driving cars, but with heavy direction toward making it low cost for buyers.
Volvo released 100 self-driving cars on public roads in Sweden this year. Their goal is to make them “death proof” by 2020.
Ford is tripling its self-driving car tests on public roads to 100 in total this year. Their aim is to have cars available for taxi services without steering wheels, brakes, and accelerators by 2021.
GM has been testing across the nation in warm weather climates and climates with bad weather conditions such as snow.
Google, Fiat Chrysler, Honda
Google’s Waymo is launching their self-driving car in partnership with Fiat Chrysler and Honda.
Tesla is also joining the game to create assorted levels of automated driving and delivering alternative technology to self-driving cars.
Audi has established self-driving technology for autopilot, but only up to a certain speed. They will be the first company to provide this level of artificial intelligence in stop-and-go traffic.
While it has been lagging behind, Toyota has spent many of its research and development resources on catching up with others. It plans to have an a working self-driving car by 2020.
Originally, they announced a partnership to provide cars for Uber. However, an opportunity came their way with Bosch for self-driving technology. They may also possibly be in the market for self-driving freight trucks.
Baidu, China’s version of Google, is testing self-driving cars on their roads that require driver supervision, with a plan for shuttle service by 2018 and production by 2021. EasyMile’s self-driving busses have been released in Finland to shuttle a maximum of 12 riders each for a quick trip along the seaside.
Uber’s Self-Driving Intelligence
Uber has tested over 30,000 trips in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Tempe, Arizona. They have even created their own artificial intelligence lab with the goal of perfecting the tech that self-driving cars depend on. In detail, Uber has taught a car to move the steering wheel, accelerate, maintain speed, and brake in all sorts of environments.
In one San Jose retirement village, vehicles have been implemented with sensors on each roof that cost $80,000 each! This small senior living community allows for live testing in controlled settings that will help programs scale for fleet operation and taxis.
The Machine And Driver Partnership
Many self-driving cars on the road right now require physical drivers to attend all vehicles as safety backups. While Uber was the United State’s first autonomous taxi, Lyft may have passed them in on-the-road advancements. Lyft has officially “promoted” their safety driver to the backseat of the vehicles, while Uber’s safety driver must still locate the driver’s seat.
Google’s Waymo can hang its hat on being the first to test self-driving cars on public roads. While not currently transporting riders inside the car, they have had self-driving cars on public roads in Arizona since mid-October. They claim riders will soon be invited to join the cars for trips along with Waymo safety drivers. Their partnership and technology offerings extend to Lyft, Fiat-Chrysler, and Avis.
The Expense Of Self-Driving AI Technology
Lidar is used today through most cars in production today for driver-assistance. It is the widest-used self-driving technology and comes with the biggest price tag. Its production and application are delayed for every interested industry because wide-scale implementation would be so expensive.
Tesla states they can offer full self-driving without the use of lidar through the use of cameras and radar. Uber has decided to create their own AI solutions that involve deep learning artificial intelligence and cameras. This alternative to lidar is not standard, though, and it will take time for industries to put resources into research and development.
Meanwhile, GM and Ford, to compete with the self-driving future, have just purchased their own lidar companies.
Self-Driving’s Effect On Current Companies
Besides GM, Chevy, Tesla, and other makers, these new enhancements will create an upheaval in related industries. From delivery, to auto insurance, auto parts retail, parking, and even trucking, these industries will all have to adjust they way they do things and the products they offer.
Just like with any major change in technology, there will be an extensive financial cost during the transition. In the end, new developments will unlock different job skills, create less vehicle accidents, lessen fuel usage, and create more opportunities for companies to sell products.