The race towards fully autonomous cars

The race towards fully autonomous cars

Self-driving cars could have been a fantasy, a jaw dropping scene in a sci-fi movie a few years ago but recently, if you browse through any automotive news you would be sure to read a headline regarding autonomous vehicles, automakers making new inventions, and plant more regarding autonomous technology. Yes, the autonomous vehicles dream has now become a possibility.
Automakers around the globe are either already testing their self-driving technology or are in the R & D phase. Autonomous vehicles is such a strong possibility that countries are even slating rules and regulation for the same.
Cars with self-driving technology are rated on the level system developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE). The levels range from 0 to 5. Level 0 indicating no autonomous technology at all, and the level increases till 5, marking fully autonomous vehicle that needs no human intervention in all conditions.

Levels of automation

With so many automakers in the race, this article aims to take an overview of the progress of major automakers in the autonomous field. Given below are leading carmakers and information about the “autonomous endeavors”.

APPLE: The technology giant has not yet revealed any information if it would manufacture its own cars but it surely has achieved a lot in the autonomous technology field. Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company was working on “autonomous software systems” that are used in self-driving cars but was not sure what the company would do from a product viewpoint.

Apple’s autonomous technology

BAIDU: The Chinese company and its Baidu Intelligent Driving Group U.S. started their research in the autonomous driving tech from 2014 and have made striking progress. The company has undertaken successful road tests in various complex driving situations. 50 companies like Ford, Microsoft, Nvidia, Daimler have joined the company on its Apollo self-driving car platform.

BMW: The luxury carmaker is aiming to be a world leader in autonomous vehicles. It currently is making cars on the SAE Level-2. It recently joined forces with chipmaker Intel and Intel’s newly acquired subsidiary, Mobileye, that expertise in making sensors, cameras and software needed for cars. It also has brought Ford Chrysler aboard. It plans to launch fully autonomous vehicles by 2020.

FIAT CHRYSLER: In 2016, Fiat joined hands with Waymo to launch a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans to be tested on the streets of Michigan, California, Arizona. It also has gone on board with the alliance of BMW, Intel and Mobileye. The carmaker plans to begin production of Level-3 autonomous cars by 2019.

FORD: The company claims that it has began testing Level-5 autonomous vehicles in Detroit. The company spent $1 billion on an AI start-up for developing a virtual driver system. Ford expects to launch a fleet of 90 autonomous Fusion Hybrid Sedans by 2018 and plans to manufacture Level-4 autonomous vehicles by 2021.

GENERAL MOTORS /LYFT: General Motors is working a ride sharing service called Lyft, that will test a 1000 self-driving cars fleet by 2018. This would be the largest test fleet of autonomous cars. GM has not shared when or if it would make autonomous vehicles public.

GOOGLE’S WAYMO: the internet giant’s autonomous vehicle has travelled more than 3 million miles. It has also allied with Fiat Chrysler on launching a test fleet of 100 self-driving cars as a trial for Waymo’s self driving vehicles.

HONDA: Honda has planned to launch Level-3 Self-driving cars by 2020 and Level-4 cars by 2025. The carmaker has plans to setup its own AI technology and is in discussion with Google’s Waymo project for a partnership.

MERCEDES-BENZ : IN 2025, the German carmaker launched world’s first autonomous truck and its F 015 research car. It has been offering semi-autonomous features in its cars for years. It has partnered with Bosch for developing a fully autonomous taxi service within 3 years.

TESLA: The launched its second generation Autopilot hardware this year. The hardware can handle full Level-5 autonomous operations but it will be more than two years for it to build to a software capacity for fully autonomous cars.

TOYOTA: Toyota has come together with tech giant Nvidia and its Drive PX supercomputer to up it’s autonomous car technology. It is currently working to create intelligent cars that will avoid crashes on its own. This technology would be used in its Lexus and higher-end car models by 2019. The carmaker is also working on fully advanced autonomous system called “Chauffer” that would be ready by the 2020s.

VOLKSWAGEN: The carmaker released its I.D electric vehicle last year which would be on the market by 2020 and a fully autonomous I.D Pilot version by 2025.The company is currently offering only standard autonomous features in its vehicles (including its Porsche and Audi brands) like self-parking, adaptive cruise control.

UBER/VOLVO: The company aims to offer fully autonomous vehicles by 2021. The company is testing a fleet of autonomous hybrid XC90s in Gothenburg, and has joined with ride-sharing Uber joint venture on autonomous vehicles. Volvo provides the vehicles and Uber adds its own self-driving tech. Uber had carried test projects in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Arizona but those have been surrounded by controversy due to and regulatory violations and accidents . At the same time, the company plans to release a network of autonomous flying cars as earliest as 2020.




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