Lots of recent news and announcements on autonomous vehicles:
1. Uber generated quite a bit of noise with their announcement they are soon going to be testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Bloomberg has a good article on Uber using self-driving Volvo XC 90s in their test. During the tests there will be drivers in the cars to take over if something goes wrong.
My guess is people will travel to Pittsburgh just to ride in these cars. BTW, the Volvo XC90 is a great car on its own, so a self-driving version is bound to attract a lot of attention.
2. Ford announced plans to mass produce driverless cars and have them in commercial operation in a ride-hailing service by 2021.
3. Google, of course, is still in the driverless car business. But Fortune reports some of their employees have moved on to other ventures because they felt Google is not moving fast enough.
4. GM has a driverless car partnership with Lyft. Lyft has also evidently been trying to find a buyer for the company the last couple of months, so far with no success. We suspect the capital intensity associated with the autonomous car arms race is likely a factor in their interest to be acquired.
5. The auto parts companies don't want to be left out, so they are partnering to produce self-driving car systems.
6. Startups are still going hard after this space. An example is Qaunergy, which just raised $90 million to develop sensors for autonomous vehicles.
7. Japanese and European car makers are also working on driverless cars. Most feel they are currently behind in this race.
8. And of course, Apple's secret Titan car project likely includes self-driving vehicles. Titan is so "secret" that even Men's Journal has an extensive article on it.
The New York Times article Uber Aims for an Edge in the Race for a Self-Driving Future summarizes this as a Silicon Valley versus Detroit self-driving car race. Key quote:
Suddenly, it seems, both Silicon Valley and Detroit are doubling down on their bets for autonomous vehicles. And in what could emerge as a self-driving-car arms race, the players are investing in, or partnering with, or buying outright the specialty companies most focused on the requisite hardware, software and artificial intelligence capabilities.
Let the race begin.
***Update: A reader reported this morning that today's Wall Street Journal has an article on self-driving taxis operating in Singapore.***