Full Speed Ahead: Autonomous Car Development
A concept once reserved for science fiction movies and vintage cartoons like “The Jetsons” has very quickly come into focus not only for the technology and electronics industry, but for society as a whole.
Autonomous vehicles, defined by Gartner as “automobiles that can drive themselves from a starting point to a predetermined destination in autopilot-mode using various in-vehicle technologies and sensors,” have become a focal point for nearly all auto manufacturers in 2017. In fact, in 2020, automakers are expected to produce 85.9 million vehicles equipped with collision-avoidance systems, up from 10.8 million in 2016, according to Gartner.
Relying on technology and sensors that include adaptive cruise control, active steering (steer by wire), anti-lock braking systems (brake by wire), GPS navigation technology, lasers, and radar, autonomous cars have been under development for years. When Apple officially threw its hat into the development ring earlier this year, the picture of the “driverless” car came into even clearer view.
“We’re focusing on autonomous systems,” Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said in an interview on Bloomberg Television that amounted to his most detailed comments yet on Apple’s automotive plans, Supply Chain 24/7 reports. “It’s a core technology that we view as very important.” He likened the effort to “the mother of all AI projects,” saying it’s “probably one of the most difficult AI projects to work on.”
From Laptops to Driverless Cars
If the idea of a laptop- and device-makers jumping feet first into autonomous vehicle development sounds out of character, the notion doesn’t seem quite so far fetched for the average consumer. “A new [Inrix] study finds American consumers have slightly more faith in tech giants such as Google and Apple than in traditional automakers to build autonomous cars,” Fred Meier reports in Tech Giants Most Trusted to Build Self-Driving Cars.
“A new battleground is emerging between automakers, tech companies, and ride-sharing companies in the race to develop connected and autonomous vehicles,” said Bob Pishue, Inrix senior economist, in the article. “With hundreds of millions of connected cars expected to be on the roads within the next 15 years, the market share will be owned by companies that can educate drivers and gain consumer trust.”
The prospect of self-driving cars has seen a slew of technology companies push into the auto industry, according to McKinsey & Co. Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo unit has signed partnerships with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Lyft Inc. to develop the technology. “Car makers from BMW AG to General Motors Co. have opened sizable Silicon Valley offices and dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire autonomous vehicle startups,” according to Supply Chain 24/7.
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