An Uber driver sits in his car near San Francisco International Airport on July 15, 2015. Uber and Volvo will invest a combined 300 million into a joint project to develop self-driving vehicles, the companies announced Thursday. In a statement, the companies said they will equip base vehicles with autonomous driving technology, ultimately moving toward manufacturing self-driving vehicles. Volvo will make the vehicles, while Uber purchases those vehicles and implement its own self-driving tech. "Over one million people die in car accidents every year," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a statement.
Google's autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. Google initially built its self-driving software on a prototype car outfitted with sensors, cameras and other hardware from outside suppliers. But to build a more affordable and sophisticated system capable of fully autonomous driving, the company decided it needed to create both halves of the technology, executives said. The announcement comes just weeks after Japanese automaker Honda said it would incorporate Waymo's technology into some of its vehicles. The companies said that deal was centered on research rather than producing vehicles for market, Bloomberg News reported.
Washington, DC (CNN Business)Tesla is selling its cars with the option of "full self-driving capability," a feature that's drawing criticism from experts on self-driving technology. They say CEO Elon Musk is playing fast and loose with definitions, overselling the technology and potentially creating safety issues. When Tesla announced the $35,000 Model 3 Thursday, it said it would come with an optional $5,000 feature: full self-driving capability. The system will offer "automatic driving on city streets" as an update later this year, according to Tesla's website. A Tesla spokeswoman declined to comment on details around the automatic driving option, and pointed CNN Business to fine print on Tesla's order page that tells buyers the currently enabled features require "active" driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.
If you had your heart set on an Apple iCar to go with your iPhone and Apple Watch, take a deep breath and prepare to be disappointed. Forbes reported Wednesday the company apparently is more interested in developing apps for self-driving cars than the cars themselves. The California Department of Motor Vehicles granted permits for Apple to test three 2015 Lexus RX 450h hybrid SUVs. Industry analysts say the fact that only three vehicles are involved suggests Apple is focusing on its CarPlay connectivity and infotainment platform, Forbes said. CarPlay already has a significant portion of the vehicle market.
The development of self-driving vehicles is in full swing, but there are bumps in the road ahead. Companies including Google are testing full fleets of autonomous vehicles, but one of the major obstacles is that self-driving systems require maps of their environments in order to avoid objects, hazards, and to navigate safely. Driving-related objects, including stop signs, pedestrian crossings, curbs, and more must be mapped in order for self-driving vehicles to act in an appropriate manner on our roads. This requirement alone has limited self-driving car pilots to the major cities and towns in which technology firms and automakers are performing tests and investing in the creation of full 3D maps. However, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) hope that a new navigation system will free autonomous vehicles from city streets.