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.
Want to receive a weekly deep dive into all things auto, transportation, & logistics tech? Click here to subscribe to our auto tech newsletter. Private companies working in auto tech are on pace to attract record levels of deals and funding in 2016, with autonomous driving startups leading the charge. As expectations around self-driving vehicles have risen, major corporations have ramped up their own initiatives, racing to deploy technology onto public roads. Using CB Insights' investment, acquisition, and partnership data, we identified 33 corporate groups involved in the development of advanced driver assistance systems and self-driving vehicles. They are a diverse group of players, ranging from automotive industry stalwarts to leading technology brands. The list is organized alphabetically (companies working on industrial autonomous vehicles were not included in this analysis).
We uncovered the following insights and trends: • Semi-autonomous vehicles are the stepping stone to fully autonomous vehicles. Most car manufacturers and technology companies have taken Tesla's lead and are offering features like self- parking, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and semi-hands off driving in highway/interstate conditions. Semi-autonomous features help consumers become comfortable with the idea of robots taking the wheel.
In the race to start the world's first driving business without human drivers, everyone is chasing Alphabet Inc.'s Waymo. The Google sibling has cleared the way to beat its nearest rivals, General Motors Co. and a couple of other players, by at least a year to introduce driverless cars to the public. A deal reached in January to buy thousands of additional Chrysler Pacifica minivans, which get kitted out with sensors that can see hundreds of yards in any direction, puts Waymo's lead into stark relief. No other company is offering for-hire rides yet, let alone preparing to carry passengers in more than one city this year. GM plans to start a ride-hailing service with its Chevrolet Bolt--the one with no steering wheel or pedals, the ultimate goal in autonomous technology--late next year, assuming the U.S. government has protocols in place by then. SoftBank Vision Fund, the gigantic Japanese tech investor, backed that plan on May 31 by dropping $2.25 billion into GM Cruise Holdings, the automaker's autonomous drive unit. Most of the others trying solve the last remaining self-driving puzzles are more cautious, targeting 2020 or later. The road to autonomy is long and exceedingly complicated. It can also be dangerous: Two high-profile efforts, from Uber Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc., were involved in crashes that caused the death of a pedestrian (in the first known case of a person killed by a self-driving vehicle) and a driver using an assistance program touted as a precursor to autonomy. One of Waymo's autonomous vans was involved in a collision just last week.
Automakers have already spent at least $16 billion developing self-driving technology, with the promise of someday creating fully autonomous vehicles.2 What has been the result? Although it seems that we have more promises than actual progress, some encouraging experiments are now under way, and there have been intermediate benefits in the form of driver-assist safety features. Engineers started on this quest to automate driving several decades ago, when passenger vehicles first began deploying cameras, radar, and limited software controls. In the 1990s, automakers introduced radar-based adaptive cruise control and dynamic traction control for braking.