Business Insider published a report in October, 2016 that reviewed 19 major companies claiming to put self-driving cars on the road by the year 2021. That may seem like it’s much farther off in the future, but the reality is that is only 5 years from now! Think how fast five years goes by!
It is clear that the next decade will be the start of the Decade of Driverless Cars. Some companies are declaring that their fully autonomous car will likely be hitting the road in the next five to six years, assuming the U.S. Department of Transportation, as well as local and state regulations, are put into place.
While 2021 is the aim for most of the companies, our friend Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, committed to a 2018 timeframe as recently as September. However, Musk himself said it is unlikely that regulators will be ready for driverless cars so we may need to wait a little bit longer.
Below are details on the various companies developing driverless cars.
Uber and Volvo (Volvo is owned by a Chinese company) have agreed to a $300 million alliance to develop driverless cars. Uber has poached staff from Carnegie Melon University’s Robotic Department and recently bought Otto self-driving technology for long-haul tractor-trailer trucks.
We have all seen where Google has been on the forefront of all of the self-driving technology, but Google has never given a formal deadline. It is believed that Chris Urmson, former head of Google’s self-driving project, suggested in a March, 2015 TED TALK that his team was working on a 2020 guideline. It is also known that Google is taking a slightly different approach from other automakers in that it isn’t looking to roll out semi-autonomous features over time but to produce a fully driverless car without a brake or steering wheel. As you may have read multiple times, Google cars have already driven over 2 million miles.
Bosch, best known for its kitchen and household appliances, is working on driverless technology while PSA Group, the second largest manufacturer in Europe, is aiming to have fully driverless cars in 2020. Startup Faraday Future is working on an electric car and developing autonomous technology. LeEco, a Chinese tech company, is working on an autonomous electric car.
Apple has reportedly ditched its efforts to build a self-driving car, and, instead is turning its focus to autonomous software. We sure do miss Steve Jobs!
These are just a few of the companies focused on developing self-driving vehicle technology right now. In Part 2 of this blog series, I’ll focus on what the top auto manufacturers are doing, and where they stand on the driverless spectrum. One thing is sure, at some point in the future, you will be able to say, “Look Mom, no hands,” and actually mean it!