Who’s winning the self-driving car race?

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Article first published on RideGuru.

If you are involved in the rideshare world, or in technology at all, you have likely heard of the self-driving car race currently taking place. We are here to tell you everything you need to know about the self-driving car race: what companies are involved, what their prototypes look like, and who is winning the race.

Self-driving cars are the technology of the future, driven by innovation and a desire to change the way we use transportation in our everyday lives. Currently there are almost 30 companies testing self-driving vehicles in the state of California alone. The California DMV released a list of these companies that obtained permits to test their cars in the state, with the most recent added company being Apple, added just yesterday. Other companies like Google, Uber, Ford, Tesla and GM have also all been working on autonomous vehicle technology.

There are many obstacles that need to be overcome before self-driving cars become a reality for the masses, some of these being technological, and others political and regulatory. However, analysts believe that the self-driving car market will be worth billions of dollars in the coming years.

G.M.

General Motors has been involved in the self-driving car race since its inception. They have recently planned to expand their operations in Silicon Valley and hire 1,1000 people and invest $14 million in their self-driving car operation. G.M. has been testing 50 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles with self-driving technology.

In the next year, G.M. plans to introduce a system called SuperCruise as an option in certain Cadillac models. The system will be capable of piloting a self-driving car on limited-access highways, but it will require drivers to still keep their eyes on the road.

Google (Waymo)

Google’s automated car company, Waymo, has tested more than 200 million miles of driving various test vehicles. Waymo has been working on self-driving technology since 2009, long before there was much conversation on the topic at all. Since then they have developed and improved their technology to bring fully functional self-driving cars to public roads in Texas and California.

Currently Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber, alleging Uber stole Waymo’s intellectual property to create their own self-driving vehicles. Uber responded to the allegations by stating they could not have stolen Waymo’s technology, since Uber’s technology is different (and perhaps better?).

Tesla

Automaker Tesla is at a different stage in the self-driving race than most. All Tesla cars being produced come with full self-driving hardware already installed. Tesla’s electric vehicles have been equipped with this technology since November of 2016, but sources are saying they will need improvements in order to stay ahead of the race, especially going against G.M.’s SuperCruise.

Uber

Uber currently has dozens of driverless vehicles, Volvo XC90 SUVs, picking up passengers in Tempe, Arizona. Accompanying the trips are two Uber engineers in the front seats as safety precautions in case human intervention is needed. Uber hopes to expand their self-driving car fleet to other cities in Arizona.

The group in charge of Uber’s self-driving car fleet, the Advanced Technology Group (ATG), is currently deciding where their priorities should be. The group has gained attention in the past month regarding the crash of one of their self-driving cars in Arizona, and is in the process of improving their technology to make it safer for the roads.

Self-driving cars for the masses may not be available yet, but hopefully we will soon see which one of these companies will come out on top. From our predictions, we see Google’s Waymo ahead of the race. They have been in the race before anyone else and have been continuously updating and adapting their technology to stay on top.

Self-Driving Taxis Report Accidents

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self-driving car crashSelf-driving taxis are said to be the way of the future, with major car companies and rideshare giants developing models that are expected to be on the road in 5 years. In fact, one rideshare giant said in the next 10 years, the majority of vehicles on the road will be driver-less.

This idea of autonomous vehicles has been largely controversial due to safety concerns, and many people are expressing that they would never be comfortable riding in a car without a driver. However, these companies are introducing driver-less models faster than anyone originally expected.

In Singapore, a company called nuTonomy released their first self-driving taxi, and within a few months of its debut, the company has reported an accident. The car crashed into a truck while attempting to switch lanes, however there were no injuries in the crash. Engineers are still determining the exact cause of the incident, but regardless of the cause, the accident has caused much conversation around the issue. Are driverless cars and taxis safe? Should the driverless vehicle save pedestrians or its riders if it has the choice? Should we put so much trust in technology?

Rideshare company Uber also announced that they would be releasing their very own autonomous vehicle operations within the next month. It will be interesting to see how Uber’s long awaited autonomous vehicle handles the pressure.

Accidents like these make consumers even more uncomfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles, and adds to the skepticism that already exists. There are still many barriers that companies will have to overcome before a completely driver-less future becomes reality.  Buckle your seat belts though, because it is going to be a bumpy ride!

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Will Autonomous Cars Take Over Taxis?

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Autonomous cars and the technology behind them seem to be all anyone can talk about recently. The world is curious about how these cars will work, how safe they will be, how expensive they will be, and if they will be able to fully drive without any human interaction. To some this may still seem like a far off discussion but according to a recent study completed by Boston Consulting Group, partially autonomous vehicles are already here and fully autonomous vehicles may be on the road by 2025!

Of course with all this news on autonomous vehicles, our TaxiFareFinder team can’t help but wonder how this will affect the taxi and rideshare industry. At the moment taxi drivers are focusing all their energy on getting rid of Uber and Uber drivers are focusing all their energy on converting taxi customers to Uber customers, but with the possibility that autonomous cars will be fully rolled out by 2025 maybe these drivers should worry a little bit more about self driving cars taking over their jobs.

According to BCG’s study, multiple communities around the world are already testing driver-less forms of taxis, “Wageningen University, in the Netherlands, plans to introduce a driverless taxi later this year. The vehicle, one of the first of its kind, will operate between two campus locations. Milton Keynes, a planned community in the UK, is developing self-driving “public transport pods” for rollout in 2017. Last year, Singapore conducted a two-month test of driverless vehicles, in which 500 people tried out self-driving buggies that plied the paths of the gardens in the city’s Jurong Lake district. Later this year, the city will begin testing AV jitneys that will convey people for short distances at low speeds in another part of town. The object of the test is to observe how AVs perform in real traffic conditions on public roads and how they interact with pedestrians and bicyclists at intersections.”

Do you think autonomous cars will really be rolled out by 2025? How long after will autonomous taxis be available? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!

For more information and further insight on autonomous cars visit BCG Perspectives Study on Autonomous Cars.