Think self-driving cars have anything to do with actual automobiles? Think again. When you take a look at the big names pushing the technology of autonomous vehicles they’re not Ford, GM, and Toyota – they’re Google, Uber, and Apple. Much like other sectors, the future of self-driving cars is less about the hardware and far more about the software.
One of the biggest shifts making this possible is the transition toward electric vehicles. This type of car is far simpler to design and build for computer companies than standard gasoline-powered vehicles. Tesla, famous for its all-electric vehicles, has even made the patents for its electric technology public so that the world can benefit from their technological advancements.
When it comes to actual development of self-driving vehicles, Google is clearly in the lead. Its autonomous vehicles have already logged more than 1 million driving miles in the real world. Tesla released an Autopilot feature for its Model S electric car in October that will begin training its self-driving system on the tens of thousands of cars that it already has on the road. Uber is lagging behind the competition, but has recently poached lots of the top minds in robotics and optics. Apple has been extremely hush-hush about its progress, but it’s likely that they’re moving ahead quickly.
Navigation and fleet routing capabilities are also critical for the success of autonomous vehicles. Google again has a clear edge because of its Google Maps and Waze services. Uber is also working on its own comprehensive mapping system after acquiring deCarta. This, coupled with fleet routing, gives these companies great positioning for success. Uber is the most capable for deploying fleets of vehicles to a destination and already has the groundwork in place for mobile apps and consumer familiarity. Some have speculated that Tesla’s entire end-game is to have a fleet of self-driving vehicles as opposed to single ownership. This does seem to be an increasingly-common trend in this modern renting-heavy economy.
It’s estimated that self-driving cars will be a reality by 2020. Based on the current progress, the big names in the automotive industry might soon be the same brands that are in your pockets.
Read the full article here: Self-Driving Cars Are About Platforms, Not About Cars