Believe It or Not, It Won’t Be Long – Driverless Cars Are Coming Your Way! – Part 2

In Part 1 of our blog series I discussed a number of companies outside of the auto manufacturing space that are throwing their hat into the driverless car ring. In this next blog, I wanted to provide updates on the major car manufacturers plans with respect to self-driving car technology, and where each of them is in this process.

Toyota has invested over $1 billion in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to help make their 2020 rollout a reality. Toyota is mapping routes to aid its driverless car efforts.

BMW plans to introduce its self-driving cars in China in five years. Additionally, not surprisingly, BMW is also committed to releasing an all-electric car with autonomous capabilities as part of its Project i20. It is expected within 10 years, likely by the year 2025, Project i20 will be fully autonomous. Currently, BMW has self-driving technology in its all-electric i3 concept which can park itself and come back to pick you up when you are ready.

With a reputation built on safety, Volvo is aiming to make its cars “death proof” by the year 2020 by rolling out semi-autonomous features eventually working up to fully driverless cars.  Volvo is looking to have an advanced autonomous driving experience in China where 100 volunteers will be able to test driverless Volvo XC90s on public roads. The experiment is part of its DriveMe program that will also test 100 driverless Volvos in Sweden and London next year.

Nissan wrote on their website recently that it has “achieved technological advancements necessary to begin to make this fiction a reality” in the next five years. They plan to have a fully self-driving car by the year 2020.

One of Detroit’s famous children, Ford Motor, will roll out a fleet of self-driving cars as part of its ridesharing or hailing service by the year 2021. Like Google’s AVs, Ford cars will not come with a steering wheel, a brake, or a gas pedal. For sure, this lack of control will freak out a lot of riders. Ford CEO, Mark Fields, recently told Business Insider that they want to make sure their cars are available to everyone and not just those who can afford luxury vehicles. Ford and the Chinese Company, Baidu, invested $150 million in a manufacturer of a lidar system that allows self-driving cars to “see” the world around them. Ford proved that their driverless cars can successfully navigate in complete darkness and in snow this past April.

General Motors announced a $500 million investment in Lyft in January to build a network of on-demand driverless cars for TNCs (Transportation Network Companies). Ford bought self-driving car startup Crews Automation in March of 2016 for $1 billion to bolster its autonomous car efforts.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz, is aiming to have driverless trucks ready by the year 2020, which is only about four years away. In October 2016, a Mercedes big rig made history by driving itself on a public road marking the first time a big rig drove semi-autonomously on a highway.

Audi is also in the game but has not yet provided information on when their cars may be hitting the market.

Baidu, a Beijing search company, is aiming to have a commercial model ready within two years, in 2018. Baidu has been cleared to test its self-driving cars in California and currently has employees working on the project in its Sunnyvale, California office.

The Japanese favorite, Honda, is aiming to produce cars that are completely driverless by the year 2020, again four years from now. The automaker is developing forward-collision warning, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assist that rolled out in its 2016 Acura and Civic cars.  Rolling out semi-autonomous features in its cars is part of Honda’s plan to achieve full autonomy by the year 2020.

The Korean automaker Hyundai is aiming for driverless features in its cars in 2020 but will likely not have fully autonomous cars ready until 2030. Does 2030 seem like a long way off?  It is only 13 years from now.

With as much time, effort, and money all of these companies are putting into the creation of self-driving vehicles, they are certain they will get a return on their investment. Hold on to your hats, folks, whether we like it or not, driverless cars have already started their journey to us – it’s just a matter of time until they show up.

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