Which companies are leading the way in autonomous vehicle research?
The race is on for bringing competitive autonomous cars to the public, but which companies are actually involved? Some on this list you would have heard of before like Audi and Tesla, while others have been flying under the radar so far.
The autonomous vehicle industry is an exciting new frontier that has yet to be conquered by a single company. However, here are some of the top players worth paying attention to.
Elon Musk’s Tesla car company, founded on July 1st, 2003, is arguably the most revolutionary of them all that has been leading the charge in recent years. The flagship Model S was the biggest selling electric car in 2015 and 2016. It uses 12 long-range ultrasonic sensors to sense 16 feet in all directions. The feedback modules are extensive and include GPS, ultrasonics, radar, and camera.
The goal of the company is to deliver electric cars to the average consumer that’s at an affordable price point. Global sales of the Model S in the Q4 of 2017 alone were 200,000 units.
Waymo is a subsidiary of Google, and they began the self-driving initiative in 2009. The goal of the company is to help people and things move about in a safe manner. They are aiming to launch their cars for the general public in the near future.
On November the 7th 2017 Waymo began testing their cars without a safety driver. Their headquarters is located in Mountain View, California. One of the testing models is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, which has a range of 33 miles when powered by electricity.
The Renault headquarters are located in Boulogne-Billancourt, France. Renault estimates that it will sell fully autonomous cars by 2022.They are a French multination car manufacturer that has been in the business since 1899. Their planned autonomous car is relatively big at 16 feet long (4.9 meters) and 6 feet wide (1.8 meters). The car will have a 360-degree field of view and can detect objects within a distance of 250 meters.
The autonomous part works by using a radar fitted at the front and a camera in the back of the car. An ultrasound unit is also used to detect objects around the car.
Audi has been testing autonomous technologies for 15 years such as active lane assist and adaptive cruise control. They are rolling out the autonomous technology in one of their flagship cars, the Audi A8. The feature is called the Audi AI traffic jam pilot and completely takes over from the driver. However, this feature is not yet fully implemented, but there are plans to do so in the near future.
Audi headquarters is located in Ingolstadt, Germany and the company was founded in 1910. They are one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world with 11 production facilities across 9 countries.
Lyft is combining forces with Aptiv, a self-driving technology company. During CES 2018 they offered a self-driving taxi experience to 20 predefined locations around Las Vegas. This was a testing run that included a safety driver.
The cars used were BMW 5 Series sedans, which were equipped with the self-driving technology. Lyft was founded in 2012 and they are known as an on-demand transportation company. Their headquarters are located in San Francisco, California. They are one of the biggest competitors to what Uber is offering.
Nio was established in 2014, a Chinese startup that serves up to 19 locations, which includes San Francisco and San Jose. They plan to release a fully autonomous electric car by 2020. They differentiate themselves from the rest of the industry because of the innovative visual design. The sliding doors and interesting seating pattern is something to take note of here. The spacious interior allows you to ride in comfort to your destination.
Uber is one of the fastest growing vehicle transportation companies in the world. They currently operate in 633 cities across the world and were founded in March of 2009 – their headquarters are in San Francisco, California.
They plan to roll out fully autonomous vehicles by the summer of 2019 and are currently testing their technology with the Volvo XC90’s SUV. However, problems with legislation regarding autonomous vehicles are undermining their testing phase.
Land Rover is known for industry-leading all-terrain vehicles, and are now testing self-driving technology. They are based in the UK and were founded in 1948. This is one of the more interesting companies making a push for self-driving cars in the off-road environment.
3D path sensing technologies are implemented, which include LIDAR sensors, radar, ultrasonics and a camera. The autonomous vehicles will have a 360-degree view of the surrounding area. They plan to release up to 20,000 units by 2020.
General Motors/Cruise Automation
General Motors’ Cruise Automation is releasing their own electric self-driving cars to compete in the modern marketplace. They will include a comprehensive range of sensors so that a detailed detection system is available to accurately navigate the roads. Currently, there are 180 prototypes on the road and because of the reliance on LIDAR sensors the cars are too expensive for the average consumer.
They plan to release 18 different cars over the next 5 years, which includes, 7 SUV’s, 2 minivans and 5 crossovers. General Motors is one of the largest car companies in the world with over 396 facilities across 6 countries – their headquarters are located in Detroit, Michigan.
Byton unveiled their range of electric cars at CES 2018 and claim to release 3 different versions by 2022. At the show, a mid-sized Byton SUV was shown, which the company calls a “next generation smart device”.
The parent company of Byton, Future Mobility Corp. is located in China, but sales of their automotive vehicles will roll out in Europe and the US by Q4 in 2019. It’s claimed that each car will cost $45,000 and allow for 150 miles for only 20 minutes of charging time. A $1 billion dollar facility in China is being used to manufacture these electric autonomous vehicles.
Bosch is known more as a home appliance company, but they are teaming up with NVIDIA to create an AI system capable of handling self-driving cars. The mapping systems aim to have an in-depth understanding of its surroundings so that the correct decisions can be made.
3 sensors technologies are used, which are radar, laser scanners, and video cameras. The combination of sensors ensures that the autonomous car can perform well in a range of different conditions. Bosch was founded in 1886 and the headquarters are located in Gerlingen, Germany.
The French car manufacturer Peugeot, located in Ave de la Grande Armee, Paris, is releasing their version of a self-driving car: the Peugeot Instinct. It will not be available for purchase until 2025 and boasts to offer 300 horsepower. The car has a stylish design and enhanced aerodynamics. It will make use of a hybrid powertrain, plenty of room and rear-hinged back doors. The futuristic design will be a welcome addition to the autonomous vehicle industry when it finally arrives.
Cleary, as you can see from this list, many companies believe in an autonomous future. A combination of fierce competition and innovation will transform the automotive industry in the coming decade. The only question left is, who will get there first?