According to a study conducted by IBM, the automotive industry will offer a greater personalized driving experience by 2025. Of the executives surveyed by IBM, 80% felt that in-vehicle cognitive technologies will be a key component of how vehicles learn to provide a better experience for the occupants and optimize their own performance. On an average, people in the U.S spend 46 minutes in their car per day and GM is looking at ways to optimize this time spent through OnStar Go. The platform can also learn driver's preferences, apply machine learning and sift through data to recognize patterns in their decisions and habits. This information can create several marketing opportunities for GM's brand partners in this platform.
As carmakers and tech companies race to perfect self-driving vehicles, Apple's program and its automotive intentions remain notably ambiguous. Like Washington's old rule about the National Security Agency, its very existence isn't to be mentioned – at least not by the company. Yet when Apple recently offered views on preliminary guidelines for autonomous vehicles in a letter to U.S. regulators, it let slip an interesting detail: Its "Titan" project team has a high-level Big 3 veteran with more than 30 years of industry expertise. The author of Apple's comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is Steve Kenner, identified in the letter as the company's director of product integrity. It confirms that Apple wants the option to test automated vehicles on public roads, though it doesn't mention a specific plan to do so or an intention to commercialize such technology.
The global automotive industry and the oil majors are not known for meekly rolling over when a competitor comes along – from General Motors involvement in killing public transport in Los Angeles in the 1940s to Shell lobbying to undermine EU renewables targets in more recent years. But recently, the world has started to see a new side to the sector: "If you can't beat them, join them; and if you can't join them, buy them out." This week Saudi Arabia announced a surprising new venture for the country's vast oil-generated sovereign investment fund: a 3.5bn stake in the ride-hailing startup Uber. The investment, which values six-year-old Uber at 62.5bn, is one of the largest ever made in a privately held company, and is roughly the same size as the sum total of all investments in the UK's tech sector over the course of 2015, according to the venture capitalist David Galbraith. Saudi Arabia's goal with its investment fund is to use some of the state's 2tn in assets to make long-standing investments that will fund the future of the country once its oil economy begins to sputter.
They've reached market saturation -- the technology is as commonplace as cruise control is today. The rise of self-driving cars leads to a host of questions, of course, but for the moment let's focus on just one: Will you still be able own a car? Would you even want to? I mean, why buy when you can take an autonomous pod everywhere for far less? SEE ALSO: Really, you don't want a steering wheel in your self-driving car Thing is, the answer to that question isn't a simple yes or no.
Just hours before the Toyota-Uber deal was (somewhat hastily and vaguely) announced, Uber rival Gett and Volkswagen announced a similar arrangement with Volkswagen investing 300 million in the startup. Lyft, Uber's chief competitor in the U.S., kicked off the trend at the beginning of this year with 500 million from General Motors and plans to develop a fleet of self-driving cars together. Didi Chuxing, Uber's chief rival in China, received a 1 billion investment from Apple earlier this month -- a move that prompted some relationship strains for Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick. "Toyota vehicles are among the most popular cars on the Uber platform worldwide and we look forward to collaborating with Toyota in multiple ways going forward, starting with the expansion of our vehicle financing efforts," Emil Michael, Chief Business Officer of Uber, said in a statement.
General Motors has completed its acquisition of Cruise Automation, the 3-year-old San Francisco startup that may provide a critical piece of technology in the quest to bring a fully autonomous car to market soon. Under terms of GM's acquisition, Cruise will operate from San Francisco; cofounder Vogt will report to GM's recently formed autonomous vehicle development team led by Doug Parks, GM vice president of autonomous technology. In January, GM announced it is investing 500 million in ride-sharing service Lyft, which also is based in San Francisco. Last week, a Lyft executive, Taggart Matthiesen, said GM and Lyft would begin testing a small fleet of fully autonomous vehicles that could be the new Chevrolet Bolt, in the latter's ride-sharing services in one city that Matthiesen did not identify.
Two miles apart in Palo Alto, workers from Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. are hustling to establish a role for their companies in a future in which consumers don't own cars and the vehicles steer themselves. On Thursday, it became ever more clear that the Michigan automakers and their West Coast outposts won't be going at it alone. They'll be depending big time on software-developing neighbors in Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Ford announced an 182.2-million investment in Pivotal Software Inc., a San Francisco company whose programs are already used by the likes of Lockheed Martin and Allstate Corp., to quickly develop their own computer applications. "Expanding our business to be both an auto and mobility company requires leading-edge software expertise," Ford Chief Executive Mark Fields said in a statement.
George Hotz, the latest Silicon Valley startup founder to get a multimillion-dollar check from venture capitalists, went for a ride in a Rolls-Royce around San Francisco on Monday. By the end of the year, Comma wants to sell consumers car-automation conversion kits for less than 1,000. So far, Hotz has only disclosed how he hacked an Acura, yet he believes he can use the same techniques to hack other cars made by Acura's parent company, Honda. And like almost all Silicon Valley startup founders, he remains a bit of a Tesla fanboy.
Last year, he and some friends dropped out of the University of Waterloo and started Varden Labs, an automated vehicle startup based out of a rented house just north of San Jose. It doesn't go very fast and, therefore, doesn't have to predict how it will drive very far down the road, unlike Google cars cruising at highway speeds. But these days, as some of the key pieces of technology have dropped in price and investor interest has soared, even a few college dropouts can get one on the road. Varden said they had to steer clear of Facebook's founding mantra, "Move fast and break things".