Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will collaborate with General Motors Co. and its unit Cruise LLC on launching a service using self-driving vehicles in Japan and start feasibility tests later this year. Automakers are scrambling to develop next-generation autonomous vehicles, with IT firms also joining the race. Honda and major U.S. carmaker GM agreed in 2018 to join hands in developing self-driving vehicles. Honda said it plans to start a mobility business using the Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle being developed by the three companies, with an eye to offering new transportation solutions in potential collaboration with local governments in Japan. "Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realization of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan," Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement, referring to its mobility service.
Beyond trendy names like Tesla and Alphabet chasing self-driving cars, a host of auto brands and other tech heavyweights are also investing in autonomous R&D. Private companies working in auto tech are attracting record levels of deals and funding, with autonomous driving startups leading the charge. Along with early-stage startups, VCs, and other investors, large corporations are also angling to get a slice of the self-driving pie. From autonomy to telematics to ride sharing, the auto industry has never been at more risk. Get the free 67-page report PDF. Using CB Insights' investment, acquisition, and partnership data, we identified over 40 companies developing road-going self-driving vehicles. They are a diverse group of players, ranging from automotive industry stalwarts to leading technology brands and telecommunications companies. This list is organized alphabetically and focuses on larger corporate players in the space (as opposed to earlier-stage startups). Companies working on industrial autonomous vehicles were not included in this analysis. A few of the companies or brands listed below belong to the same parent organization but are detailed separately if they are operating distinct autonomous development programs. Some companies are grouped together by key partnerships or alliances. Given the complex web of relationships between these players, other collaborations are also noted in each profile. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of corporations working on autonomous vehicle technology. This brief was originally published on 9/25/2015 and featured 25 select corporations. It was updated and expanded on 5/17/2017, 9/4/2018, and 8/28/2019. Over the last decade, Amazon has spent billions of dollars working on finding ever-better solutions to the last-mile problem in delivery. It's built its own fleet of cargo jets, explored delivery by drone in the form of "Prime Air," and more. More recently, an increasing percentage of that investment has been directed toward autonomous vehicle technology. In February 2019, Amazon invested in Aurora Innovation, an autonomous tech startup run by former executives from two other firms with strong ties to self-driving technology: Google and Tesla. "Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it's in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities." The Aurora investment isn't the only autonomous technology play that Amazon is pursuing. In January 2019, the company introduced the Amazon Scout, a six-wheeled electric-powered delivery robot.
Microsoft is investing in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise. In return, Cruise and GM are touting Azure as their "preferred" (though not exclusive) cloud vendor. According to the January 19 press release about the deal, Cruise will use Azure for its autonomous vehicle solutions. GM will work with Microsoft on collaboration, storage, AI and machine learning, as well as on digital-supply chain, productivity and mobility services. And Microsoft will join GM, Honda and institutional investors in a combined, new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise.
Autonomous driving is catching on globally even though some major work on the technology is still being done in the U.S. The latest company to join the global self-driving race is Microsoft, which has teamed up with its Chinese rival Baidu to spur the global adoption of self-driving. "Today's vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data. By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer," Kevin Dallas, corporate vice-president, Microsoft said in the press release Tuesday. Both companies are working on creating the background support for self-driving, including cloud infrastructure, software stack and other services which can support self-driving car functions. Baidu has set-up the Apollo self-driving platform, which the company claims can become the "Android" of the self-driving industry i.e. the company would provide open source software to self-driving car manufacturers just like Google provides to smartphone companies.
Progress on self-driving technology has been slower than many people expected just a few years ago. Google's Waymo was aiming to launch a fully driverless taxi service by the end of 2018 but missed its deadline. GM's Cruise abandoned plans to launch a commercial service in 2019. Tesla has repeatedly fallen short of Elon Musk's optimistic timelines for delivering fully self-driving technology. They have plenty of cash and can keep working on the problem as long as they need to. But it is a big challenge for some of their competitors: independent self-driving startups that rely on venture capital to stay afloat.