New players from the technology sector are appearing on the car manufacturing scene to turn self-driving cars into a reality. Initially, these tech companies focused on providing car manufacturers with technology to integrate into their vehicles; however, a few have been diversifying and are starting to create cars of their own. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Uber are up against conventional car manufacturers like Ford to determine who will be the car manufacturers of tomorrow. Let’s see how the odds weigh up on both sides.
Will Waymo pave the way for self-driving cars?
Google has been providing smart technology for connected cars for some time now. Take for example their Android Auto which provides drivers with an infotainment interface for navigating, making calls, playing music and sending messages, all from one place. However, a spin off company, called Waymo, was created from Google’s parent company, with one objective in mind: to turn the self-driving project into a reality, “making it safe and easy for people and things to move around”. Just in 2017 alone, the company has tested vehicles in autonomous mode over a total distance of 630,000 miles, even on the busy streets of San Francisco!
Apple’s secret self-driving project
Like Google, Apple also started by developing its own smart car technology called Car Play, which allows drivers to connect their Apple products to their car’s infotainment system. However, to keep up with competitors and new automotive technology, Apple has hired employees from Tesla to secretly develop a self-driving car project of their own called ‘Titan’. The goal is to get ahead of Google and be the first one to launch a better, smarter and more connected self-driving car.
Furthermore, Apple is also thinking of buying existing car manufacturers to boost the credibility of their knowledge of the automotive industry, and would like to play a major role in defining new laws for self-driving vehicles. The company is willing to share its data with the industry to design better detection systems and provide solutions for any situation.
Is there room for conventional car makers?
So, amidst all the ambitious projects of these tech giants, where does that leave conventional car manufacturers? Well Ford is holding its own, and according to a recent study, doing just more than that as it is ranked as the leading self-driving car manufacturer. With over 100 years’ experience in automobile manufacturing, Ford has invested heavily in autonomous technology and automation and has been testing self-driving cars since 2013. Ford is also a major stakeholder in Argo AI, a company innovating in artificial intelligence and computer vision. With its sights set on producing fully autonomous vehicles by 2021, Ford is expected to invest around $1 billion over the next five years.
Self-driving cars and silicone
Faced with the arrival of new players, specialized in technology, car manufacturers will have to prepare themselves for the changes this new competition brings with them to the market. Soon the driving experience will be completely automated and only those companies that are able to adapt and innovate will remain on top of the game. Elkem Silicones develops innovative products and can build custom solutions for all your needs in the race towards designing the perfect self-driving car.