16 Companies Likely To Launch Autonomous Cars On The Roads First

AIM brings to a consolidated list of 16 companies (in no particular order) that are working towards their autonomous car technology and are most likely to launch them first on the roads.

1. Ford: The automobile company is all set to roll out a fleet of driverless vehicles in a ride-hailing or sharing service in 2021. Ford said it recognises that the rise in online shopping will create greater demand for self-driving vehicles suited for package delivery.

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The company has also has received a patent on wheels and pedals which are removable. Ford just dumped a billion dollars into an artificial intelligence outfit. It acquired ride-sharing service Chariot and invested in Velodyne, a company producing lidar, the laser scanning tech many argue is necessary for self-driving cars.

2. General Motors: The company invested $500 million in Lyft in January 2016 to create a network of ride-hailing, self-driving vehicles. It also completed 10 self-driving test vehicles of its Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle (EV). The cars were manufactured at the company’s plant in Lake Orion, Michigan.

GM’s ability to mass produce these self-driving cars will certainly give it an edge in this growing market.  It also spent $1 billion on Cruise Automation, a Silicon Valley start-up that developed the driverless technology powering Ms. Barra’s ride in San Francisco.

3. Renault-Nissan: The duo has released ProPILOT, a self-driving feature
that lets cars drive autonomously on highways, in Japan. It also plans to roll
the system out in Europe, the US, and China. The alliance will begin selling vehicles in 2018 with “multiple-lane control,” which can autonomously negotiate hazards and change lanes during highway driving. By 2020, it says it will introduce vehicles that can navigate city intersections and heavy urban traffic without driver intervention.

4. Daimler: The company has made a mark already by executing semi-autonomous features in brands like its Mercedes S-Class and E-Class cars. The maker of luxury brand Mercedes-Benz and automotive supplier Bosch are going to collaborate to introduce a driverless car by the start of the next decade.

The announcement came after Daimler recently struck a deal with ride-hailing app Uberto partner on self-driving cars, giving the automaker a wide avenue into the rapidly evolving market for autonomous vehicle systems.

5. Volkswagen Group: Audi was the first company to receive an autonomous driving permit in Nevada in 2012 and has also obtained one in California. In 2015, an Audi A7 drove 550 miles in autopilot mode from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas.

The German car company unveiled a future-forward concept car at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show. The Sedric is envisioned to operate within a ride-sharing service. The fully driverless, electric-powered car would be hailed through an app or remote control and told its destination via a voice-controlled interface.

6. BMW: The car-maker released advanced driver assistance tech in its luxury vehicles, like the BMW 7-Series and 5-Series. It also plans to release a 40 fully driverless car in 2021 and has teamed up with Intel and Mobileye to do so.

This year, BMW officially revealed its concept car showing its vision of the future of car interiors. The car aims to show how control systems might adapt in the connected world, with Cortana and Alexa on board as well as features such as a holographic touchscreen that gives haptic feedback through ultrasound and a rear-seat wide screen that folds down from the ceiling so that passengers can in the back can enjoy movies on the move.

7. Waymo: Alphabet’s Waymo has driven its car over 2 million miles autonomously. Waymo has teamed up with Fiat Chrysler and there are reports that the two will launch a robot taxi service by the end of 2017.  

Waymo has created its own virtual world for putting self-driving cars through their paces, according to an in-depth report published recently. Carcraft, as it’s named (after the game World of Warcraft), has virtual recreations of environments found in California, Phoenix and Texas, where in real life Waymo has the cars on the road. However, on a simulated road, many more situations can be thrown at them.

8. Volvo: The company is a step ahead of others and is letting families test self-driving Volvos in Gothenburg, Sweden and London this year as part of its Drive Me program. Volvo will also conduct an “advanced autonomous driving experiment” in China, where 100 volunteers will be able to test driverless Volvo XC90s on public roads.

Volvo plans to release its first autonomous cars by 2020 and has pledged zero fatalities or serious injuries from all its cars by that time.

9. Tesla: Tesla vehicles have seen a 40% reduction in vehicle crash rates since Autopilot was first installed in 2015. Tesla cars are also currently being built with new hardware to improve Tesla Autopilot, renaming the system Autopilot 2, and set the foundation for full autonomy. A Tesla will drive itself from Los Angeles to New York before the end of 2017 to demonstrate the technology.

10. Uber: Uber’s self-driving system is putting on many more miles than it did in January this year. In March, the company’s 43 active cars drove 20,354 miles autonomously, according to documents.

Uber grounded all its self-driving test cars following an accident earlier this year, initially suspending the operation in Arizona but also in the two other cities where it is currently testing the vehicles, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, pending the outcome of an investigation.

While Uber’s self-driving cars are able to drive autonomously, the test vehicles include a human driver sitting in the passenger seat so they are in a position to take over should it become necessary.

11. nuTonomy: In August 2016, nuTonomy became the first company to launch a fleet of self-driving taxis under a pilot program in Singapore. nuTonomy and Lyft are launching a self-driving ride hailing service in Boston, where a pilot project will see a couple of cars begin picking up riders sometime in the coming months. In addition to its new collaborative effort with Lyft, nuTonomy recently announced a partnership with Peugot owner PSA for autonomous vehicle testing in Singapore.

12. Infosys: Former CEO of the company, Vishal Sikka, arrived at the briefing of the Q1 results this year, in a driverless golf car, which was developed by his firm’s engineers. As every automobile company is trying a hand into autonomous technology, with this step, Infosys has made it clear that it doesn’t want to be left behind in the field of driverless technology and connected cars. The company is reportedly building a pool of engineers with a capability to work on projects around AI.

13. Honda: Honda Motor Company has officially jumped into the self-driving slog with both feet. The Japanese carmaker recently showed its primary R&D facility in Japan, where it offered details on technology development, brewing partnerships and even multiple rides in self-driving cars. The Honda Sensing suite of driver-assist capabilities is everything from smart cruise control to lane-keeping assist to automatic braking. It is also working closely with Waymo to develop its autonomous car technology.  

14. Hyundai: Hyundai has been deploying advanced driver assistance systems, like lane-keep assist, in its vehicles like the 2016 Elantra. Hyundai plans to have a suite of self-driving features in production vehicles in 2020, but won’t commit to full autonomy until 2030. Hyundai will begin including its Highway Driving Assist 2 (HDA2) system in vehicles in late 2018.

15. Toyota: The Japanese automaker has poured a lot of resources into advanced driver assistance systems. The company made $1 billion investment in the Toyota Research Institute. The automaker will use Nvidia’s Drive PX supercomputer, a platform with a robust new processor called Xavier, to power the autonomous driving systems inside its future cars.

16. Baidu: Baidu, a Chinese internet company, has been publicly testing its self-driving-car technology since 2015. In December of that year, a BMW 3-series modified with the company’s autonomous tech completed an 18.3-mile route, performing tasks like lane changes and u-turns. The company has opened up its driverless car technology for automakers to use as it aims to be the default platform for autonomous driving.

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Priya Singh
Priya Singh leads the editorial team at AIM and comes with over six years of working experience as a journalist across broadcast and digital platforms. She loves technology and an avid follower of business and startup news. She is also a self-proclaimed baker and a crazy animal lover.

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