Artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing, though perhaps not as fast as the hype cycles would have us believe. But we are starting to see AI being applied to tasks typically done by humans, including more intelligent chatbots that can answer first- and even second-level customer service requests, smart software bots automating business process tasks and pilot projects involving autonomous vehicles. It is these vehicles that have captured the popular imagination. Proponents envision a world in which deaths caused by speeding, distracted driving, fatigue, drunk driving and other human errors can be dramatically reduced. This is a world of ride-sharing, a world where elderly and disabled populations gain mobility, a world where many people, particularly in urban centers, won't even buy cars anymore.
One of the most active areas of research and development at the moment is in the push towards self driving cars and autonomous transportation. Should self driving cars be realized it will free up time and reduce stress levels on the daily commute. If perfected it may also be safer than cars being driven by humans. Electric powered autonomous shuttles replacing gas guzzling cars could also have a significant, positive impact on the environment. It is no wonder, therefore that many of the leading players in the autonomous sector, as well as many major car manufacturers, are investing significant amounts of time and expense into developing smart self driving and autonomous solutions. The following list is organized alphabetically and will look at 33 of the leading companies who are currently pioneering self driving car technology. Since 2016 there has been much interest surrounding Project Titan. This is the name given to Apple's development program for self driving cars. However the drive for autonomous cars did not get off to a smooth start. Early setbacks, such as a rumoured hiring freeze following the departure of project head Steve Zadesky hit the program. There was also a rumours of uncertainty within Apple regarding the vision of the project. Since then Apple has tasked Bob Mansfield, a noted hardware executive, with leading their charge towards developing self driving cars. The subsequent appointment of Dan Dodge, the founder and former CEO of QNX indicates that Project Titan now has a firm strategy. This means that Apple is focusing the majority of its efforts on the development of autonomous or self driving cars. Apple documents released in April 2017 revealed that the company was working towards creating an "automated system". To help further their quest towards achieving self driving cars Apple also revealed that they had conducted a recruitment drive. This has seen the company hire some former Waymo and NASA's robotic engineering experts amongst others. The most notable of these recruits was Jaime Waydo, a senior engineer who had worked at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as on various Waymo projects. This recruitment drive has served to kick start Project Titan. Following the new recruits arrival vehicular patent activity connected to Apple has noticeably increased. Since 2018 Apple has been fleshing out its autonomous cars fleet. In the summer of 2018 the company officially had 66 vehicles registered with the California DMV most of which were also operating on public roads around the state. This means that Apple has the third largest fleet of self driving cars in California, behind only Waymo and GM Cruise.
A new survey of British motorists shows that car buyers are positive about the concept of the autonomous car. The research, commissioned by Bosch, shows that in addition to the current range of active and passive safety systems fitted to modern cars, many motorists would actively consider buying an autonomous car in the future. Measuring people's attitudes to both driving and travelling in autonomous vehicles, the survey also revealed that over one third of motorists think autonomous cars would reduce road accidents. Men are more at ease with the idea of autonomous vehicles – 44% think they would reduce road accidents compared to 21% of women. Despite the fact that the mainstream production of autonomous vehicles may be many years away, the basics of the technology are already in place on many modern cars.
In recent years, autonomous driving and so-called robotaxis have become one of the hottest topics in the automotive industry - and beyond! Recent autonomous vehicle forecasts call for sales of more than 30 million autonomous vehicles in 2040. Although the sharpest gains are expected to occur after 2030 compared to one million in 2025, commercial market introduction is announced by several OEMs for 2021. Traditional car manufacturers and established suppliers are not the only ones who are trying hard to find the sweet spots in this new emerging mobility value chain. Tech giants like Nvidia and Intel, leading software and internet players like Google (Waymo) and new mobility startups such as Aurora, Cruise and Uber are also on the verge of reaping the rewards of an entirely new future mobility era.