It seems like every other week we get some exciting look into what self-driving technology has in store for us. What once seemed like something you’d see in the Jetsons, is now sharing the same streets as us and we couldn’t be more excited. As the technology’s developed over the years, a trio of players have been leading the pack in innovation; Tesla, Alphabet, and Uber. As of last week though, it looks like they may be facing some new competitors in Ford and GM.
General Motors has already announced that it’s testing more than 40 self driving Chevy Bolt electric on public roads. GM also says that it’s anticipating to be the first manufacturer to make self driving cars in a mass production assembly plant. Additionally, General Motors has paid 1 billion for the car technology firm, Cruise Automation, and has invested in Uber’s main rival, Lyft. The company is looking to urge state and local governments to allow for street testing of their autonomous cars.
“To make autonomous vehicles the best they can be and the safest they can be, we really need to be testing on public streets,” Ammann said during an address to the Economic Club of Chicago at the Chicago Auto Show. “It can be limited to a geo-fenced area, but it needs to be public streets in a real world environment.”
Ford, on the other hand, has also made some significant investments, albeit more discreetly. The company made it evident last week that it intends to ramp up its competition in the market, announcing a 1 billion dollar investment in Pittsburgh startup, Argo AI. With this movement, Ford will become Argo AI’s primary owner, while leaving the company to operate independently with its own board. Argo, which had just formed this past December was founded by past veterans of Alphabet and Uber. The auto giant is expecting to deliver their first self-driving car by 2021.
Ford CEO Mark Fields said, “With Argo AI’s agility and Ford’s scale, we’re combining the benefits of a technology startup with the experience and discipline we have at Ford.” Ford will to continue work on the self-driving vehicle platform, including sensors, while Argo AI will build the virtual driver system.
While Tesla, Alphabet, and Uber, remain at the front of the pack, with Tesla having announced that all of its cars will now have the hardware necessary for autonomous functionality. Even still, with an increasing number of companies looking to get a foot in the self-driving door, it’s likely we’ll see some cut throat competition on price.
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