Few things indicate an industrial revolution better than a controversial topic that ironically becomes a unifying factor. The biggest, boldest, headlines shout that 3 in 4 Americans are afraid to drive in an autonomous car, Uber and the DMV are head to head, and the autonomous car industry has the potential to eliminate jobs in up to 128 industries. However, other headlines have written a different story. From companies to technology to cars themselves, the Autonomous Car market is driving us all into a new, collaborative future.
Considered an initial stretch on the roadway to fully autonomous cars, V2V technology, vehicle-to-vehicle, is a wireless network enabling cars to converse with each other. At the next level, the technology would extend to V2I, vehicle-to-infrastructure, enabling cars and say, stoplights, to communicate as well. Consider a future city that is completely connected, from autonomous cars to smart buildings.
Collaboration is not just in the future. Even now, auto manufacturers and car service companies are establishing surprising relationships in order to win this grounded version of the “race to space”. Industry giant General Motors has reached out to carpool service application, Lyft, to test self-driving taxis. Alphabet, Google parent and Autonomous Car technology leader, may now be an Autonomous Car social leader as well in its car project, Waymo. The company already paired with Chrysler Pacifica minivans and is now in talks with Honda on accommodating Waymo’s self-driving technology in an upcoming model – a significant change from Google’s small, bubble cars I pass on our Bay Area roads. In a recent development, Audi and Nvidia have united over autonomous cars.
Those large companies seeking committed relationships, are resulting in start-up acquisitions at every turn:
- GM spent $1billion on Cruise Automation for their self-driving technology
- Uber spent $680 million on Otto for their self-driving truck
- In the second biggest tech acquisition in history, Qualcomm spent $39 billion to takeover NXP Semiconductors for a path to make chips for autonomous cars
Why do Autonomous Cars drive such cooperation? Maybe it is the cars’ origin – a unique world of technological cooperation. Founder of Comma.ai and iPhone unlocking, 26-year old George Hotz, has published open-source software and hardware driving agents in an effort to “become the Android of self-driving cars”. Consistent with this approach, Linux has devoted a foundation project to the mission of “creating open source software solutions for automotive applications.” The project, Automotive Grade Linux, or simply AGL, recently released the most advanced version of its platform yet. The AGL community is made up of nearly 90 companies with an impressive roster of Ford, Honda, Toyota, and more.
“This unprecedented level of collaboration is a clear indication that the automotive industry is adopting an open source development methodology that is resulting in faster innovation with more frequent software releases and new features.”
Executive Director, Automotive Grade Linux
Maybe you’re not a fan of jumping on bandwagons. But with expectations of 21 million autonomous vehicles sold globally by 2035, it might be time for all of us to take a seat in any wagon pulled by the Autonomous Car.
This blog is part of an Industry & Market Series – analyzing what FirstRain users are tracking at the moment in order to gain advantage for the moment.