The nature of automotive companies is changing and self-driving cars are now an inevitability. As such, Silicon Valley has become integral to the movement and is slowly transforming the industry as a whole with companies such as Toyota announcing its plans to move away from the label of automotive manufacturer to the more prophetic moniker, "mobility service provider".
Self-driving cars range from level 0 which are run-of-the-mill cars which require a human driver for all functions to level 5 which is a fully automated vehicle able to perform all driving tasks without human intervention.
As more companies take an interest in the burgeoning new industry, many automotive and tech companies are realizing that in order to win the race to the first fully self-driving car, they need to collaborate. Both the tech and the automotive sectors have deep wells of expertise and by combining that knowledge, they increase their chances to get there first. Here, Innovation Enterprise highlights five of those collaborations propelling the autonomous vehicle industry the most.
Baidu and Intel
Chinese technology multinational Baidu has been working on automotive vehicles since 2014 and it makes sense. When Baidu was first incorporated, it specialized in IoT and AI-related products which positioned it perfectly to start working on bringing forth this new wave of innovation.
Baidu has since partnered with Intel to create the artificial vision, collision prevention platform Moblileye (which BMW is also utilizing for its autonomous car projects). While the software is being utilized by Baidu and other companies, recent reports from the US Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) have indicated that Its actual self-driving car is not keeping up with a lot of its US competitors.
Uber and Toyota
Toyota invested in Uber in 2017 with the intention off collaboratively bringing fleets of self-driving cars to the road. Toyota recently announced it had extended its investment in Uber by a further $500m which indicates the company's commitment to achieving its goal with Uber by its side.
In total, Toyota has plans to invest close to $3bn in autonomous vehicle software and have opened the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development Inc., a new company under which it will conduct its self-driving car operations. Toyota plans on integrating its autonomous driving software into purpose-built cars which will run on Uber's global network of customers with pilot fleet trials slated for 2021.
When Mercedes's parent company Daimler wanted to bring its goal of both self-driving cars (level 4 cars) and driverless cars (level 5) to fruition, it looked to electronic and engineering company Bosch for its expertise in the hardware and systems.
Daimler-Bosch hopes to release a fleet of taxis built for urban life whereby self-driving cars come to you through an app. It hopes this will be a "boost for car sharing" which is in line with the mobility service provider model. The company states its primary objective is "to achieve the production-ready development of a driving system which will allow cars to drive fully autonomously in the city".
Ford–Velodyne–SAIPS–Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC–Civil Maps
Ford is one of the automotive companies currently in the running to be the first to mass produce a level 4 capable vehicle, one that operates without a steering wheel or pedals and aim to have it ready to go by 2021.
In order to actually do this, it has partnered up with a number of Silicon Valley startups and firms all with specific expertise in areas they lack. Like Mercedes, Ford has a well of knowledge in car manufacturing so they have turned to Velodyne LiDar which is building self-driving sensors for not only Ford but 25 other self-driving projects; SAIPS Algorithmic Solutions who is a specialist in computer vision and machine learning; Nirenberg Neuroscience which now uses its proprietary software previously meant for neuroscience to train AI in machine vision; and Civil Maps which develop edge-based HD mapping and localization platforms for autonomous cars.
Samsung completed its acquisition of Harman International industries in March 2017. Harman designed connected products and solutions for automakers including car systems, enterprise automation solutions and other audio and visual products.
Together with Samsung, it has developed the Autonomous/ADAS Strategic Business Unit (SBU) which both companies hoping it will help them produce "key technologies for safer, smarter, connected vehicles". In August 2018, after months working with HARMAN, Samsung unveiled the DRVLINE Platform "for building advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), built with a philosophy of being open, modular and scalable". The platform has been designed to integrate with a wide range of automated requirements and is considered both a hardware and software solution.
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