On the cusp of becoming a reality, the driverless car has set off a frantic race that, in addition to traditional automakers, includes tech companies and start-ups.
Different manufacturers, equipment and component suppliers, and technology companies are developing their autonomous mobility systems.
While several major manufacturers on the market seem to agree on a launch date (early 2020s), Silicon Valley companies, contrary to what we’d think, are falling behind in the race.Car makers getting ahead of tech companies in the driverless vehicles race.Click To Tweet
The autonomous car is projected to “drive” a $7 trillion market by 2050, which could explain why this field is becoming more and more crowded. But to give these companies more credit, driverless cars are also projected to save about half a million lives from traffic fatalities over a decade.
Tencent Taps Into its AI Knowledge to Join the Driverless Tech Fray
Tencent Holdings Ltd., the conglomerate behind the social media app, WeChat, don’t want to be left behind in the driverless car race.
Already one of Tesla’s biggest shareholders (owning 5% of stakes), Tencent has committed no less than $1 billion to Nio, formerly NextEV, the Chinese startup that promises to bring an electric driverless car to the U.S. market by 2020.
But investing in other companies is far from being the only program in Tencent’s driverless technology agenda.
The internet giant is also developing its own “working prototype” of a driverless system that’s being tested right now, as reported by Bloomberg.
Earlier this year, Ma Huateng, Tencent Chairman, said his company would be developing AI tech for driverless cars.
Jaguar Land Rover Tests First Driverless car on Open Roads
As the draft bill on electric and autonomous vehicles is currently debated in the British parliament, the country’s biggest carmaker, Jaguar Land Rover, has been discreetly testing autonomous cars.
Last month, JLR group announced that it has tested its first autonomous car on public roads, further illustrating the heating driverless car race.
The JLR trials, taking place in the city of Coventry on open roads, are part of the £20m U.K. Autodrive project, which is one of three initiatives aiming to prepare the country for the introduction of autonomous vehicles.
Tech Companies Eating the Dust of Automakers in the Driverless car Race
Tencent and Jaguar Land Rover, one traditional player and one newcomer, are both developing their own driverless system projects.
However, tech companies, like Uber and Google’s Waymo, should be the first to get autonomous cars on the roads. Right?
Not so fast!
Apparently, traditional car manufacturers are the most likely to do so first. In fact, Uber, judged on both strategy and its execution, is very low on a list comprising 18 companies currently investing in research on autonomous cars.
Navigant Research, a research firm that regularly releases the “Leaderboard Report”, has ranked 18 of the most innovative self-driving-car players to see which of them is the most likely to get to the market.
Navigant Research assessed 11 automakers, 2 equipment manufacturers, and 5 tech companies on the basis of 10 criteria and gave each a score out of 100 points.
Leading the pack was Ford who gets the highest marks. Closely following them were other car manufacturers: General Motors, Renault-Nissan, Daimler-Mercedes, and Volkswagen.
Ahead of nuTonomy, Uber came in 16th, with Baidu taking the 18th and last place.
Report author and senior research analyst Sam Abuelsamid said:
“The companies that have the resources and expertise to ensure that the automation technologies are robust enough to operate in a broad range of conditions while also supporting business models that bring access to the masses are the most likely to succeed.”
That said, the map is bound to change the next year.