By Brian Solis PrincipalAnalyst Altimeter, a Prophet Company December 22, 2016 THE RACE TO 2021: THE STATE OF AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES AND A "WHO'S WHO" OF INDUSTRY DRIVERS 2. Executive Summary: State of Autonomous Vehicles For this market profile report, we examined the autonomous offerings of 22 auto manufacturers and 34 hardware and software providers. 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. Toyota, Intel and Mercedes-Benz have dedicated business units.
In the automotive industry, Tesla is a leader in many respects--but it's hardly head-and-shoulders above the rest when it comes to self-driving cars. The Silicon Valley automaker is developing fully autonomous cars, but it's part of a crowded field that includes many other automakers and a handful of rich tech companies as well. Still, Tesla's technical approach may give it an advantage over its numerous competitors. DON'T MISS: Let's be clear: Tesla's Autopilot is not a'self-driving car' The company has now collected a huge trove of operating data from customer cars running Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system. Autopilot does not provide fully autonomous driving at present, but since Tesla began installing the system in its electric cars in late 2015, the system has delivered data on 1.3 billion miles of driving, according to Bloomberg.
Comma.AI, the automotive-focused artificial intelligence (AI) startup run by George Hotz, plans on releasing an autonomous driving add-on for vehicles by the end of the year, according to TechCrunch. The device is known as the Comma One and will retail at $999; users will pay a $24 monthly fee to have access to the company's software. Hotz says that the Comma One will not make vehicles fully autonomous, but rather closer to the autonomy currently seen in Tesla's Autopilot. The device includes front radar sensors and a camera that gives users a video stream. He added that when the product launches it will only be able to support a select number of vehicles, but that eventually the company plans on making the product compatible with a much greater number of vehicles.
DETROIT – General Motors has started testing fully autonomous vehicles on public roads around its technical center in suburban Detroit. The announcement comes just one week after Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that allows the cars to be tested on public roads without a driver or a steering wheel. But the automaker says that for now, it will have human backup drivers for its fleet of autonomous Chevrolet Bolt electric cars. Testing started Thursday on roads near the tech center in Warren, Michigan. The Bolts will soon move to the entire Detroit metro area, which will serve as the company's main testing center for snowy and cold weather.
A blind man has successfully traveled around Austin -- unaccompanied -- in a car without a steering wheel or floor pedals, Google announced Tuesday. After years of testing by Google engineers and employees, the company's new level of confidence in its fully autonomous technology was described as a milestone. "We've had almost driverless technology for a decade," said Google engineer Nathaniel Fairfield. "It's the hard parts of driving that really take the time and the effort to do right." Steve Mahan, who is legally blind, was the first non-Google employee to ride alone in the company's gumdrop-shaped autonomous car.
The motorcycle of the future is so safe riders can cruise without a helmet and never fall off, giving all of the thrills with none of the danger, according to BMW. The German automaker unveiled its Motorrad Vision Next 100, a sleek, self-balancing prototype the company released as part of its 100th anniversary celebrations. The zero-emissions bike has self-balancing wheels designed to stand upright even at a complete stop, stability that the company says will allow riders to forgo riding a helmet. The self-balancing BMW Motorrad Vision Next 100 concept motorcycle is unveiled on the last of four international stops of the'Iconic Impulses' event, celebrating 100 years of BMW. A'flexframe' extends from the front to the rear wheel, which means means the bike can be steered without the various joints found on today's motorcycles.
While commercial applications may be years away, any fully autonomous vehicle that eventually takes to the road will need to make decisions--like whether to swerve to miss one pedestrian at the risk of hitting another. In a classic version of the trolley problem, researchers ask a person to imagine being on a trolley racing toward a group of workers. The essential difference, some ethicists argue, involves taking an action that doesn't intend to kill someone versus actively causing the death of one. Karl Iagnemma, CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy, a Cambridge, Mass.-based company developing software for fully autonomous cars, says ethical questions like the ones raised in the Science paper are important to consider.
"The future is here," or so stated Adrian Flux Insurance Services, an insurance broker out of Norfolk, England, that announced it will issue policies for self-driving cars. "Unlike every insurance policy that you've ever held in the past, driverless car insurance needs to cover you against a whole host of modern problems, not just your typical bumps and scrapes," the company stated in a news release. The U.K. allows the extensive testing of fully autonomous vehicles on public roads, as do the states of California, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, Texas and the District of Columbia in the U.S. New vehicles are increasingly coming with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), which can take control of the vehicle to ensure it stops before hitting an object or maintains speed and distance between other vehicles. Google's self-driving pod car has no steering wheel. California is considering regulations that would require a human driver behind every autonomous vehicle's steering wheel.
We may still be years away from seeing a fully autonomous car for sale to the general public, but many drivers already have a huge amount of technology in their cars, taking control of the vehicle at various points -- which is why an insurance company in the U.K. has launched what it believes to be the first driverless car policy in the world. The policy has been launched by Adrian Flux and will cover drivers who are already using autonomous features in their cars, such as self-parking and Tesla's Autopilot, which takes control of the car when driving on a highway. "We understand this driverless policy to be the first of its kind in the U.K. – and possibly the world," Gerry Bucke, general manager of Adrian Flux, told the Guardian. "More than half of new cars sold last year featured autonomous safety technology, such as self-parking or ABS [anti-lock braking systems], which effectively either take control or take decisions on behalf of the driver. And it's only going to continue.
While much of the media attention around autonomous vehicle technology has been focused on fully self-driving cars, consumers shouldn't expect cars to act like chauffeurs any time soon. The vast majority of mainstream vehicles adopting autonomous driving features will be controlled by advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or "guardian angels" that learn over time, Gil Pratt, CEO Toyota Research Institute, told reporters and analysts last week. Speaking at the New England Motor Press Association Technology Conference at MIT, Pratt said that 30,000 motor vehicle fatalities occur in the U.S. each year. That number may seem high, but as a whole, U.S. drivers are excellent at avoiding crashes. So, instead of taking the wheel from drivers' hands, as a fully autonomous vehicle would do, auto makers are more focused on assisting drivers for years to come.