In GPS World, Kevin Dennehy makes the case that Uber’s recent partnerships and acquisitions have set it up beautifully to take the lead in autonomous vehicles.
Uber has made big moves implementing location technology by signing a deal with TomTom, buying Microsoft’s mapping technology, and outright purchasing deCarta this year. The company is working with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg to develop autonomous vehicle technology.
“Because the continued success of [Uber’s] business depends on it, and they have the money to spend on it to gain a competitive advantage,” explained Scott Frank
Since I am currently in Daytona Beach, Florida, this news seems worth noting.
A team of researchers from the College of Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus has begun a 14-month research project for the Florida Department of Transportation to determine the viability of using autonomous vehicles for the inspection of roadways and airport properties, line painting, and roadside trimming and mowing.
There are relatively few startups in the autonomous driving industry right now. The big players are really big – Tesla, Google, Uber, Ford, Continental Automotive, and the list goes on.
One notable startup, however, is Quanergy, a mapping and navigation company that specializes in LiDar.
In Forbes, Liane Yvkoff highlights some daring statements the company has recently made:
“You cannot build autonomous cars without LiDar, and anyone who thinks differently, please challenge me.”
This statement about laser radar systems was made by Louay Eldada, CEO of Quanergy, to a crowd at the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles, Calif., but it seemed directed to Tesla CEO Elon Musk or anyone who may have listened to his press conference in October when he announced the availability of AutoSteer.
I guess Elon Musk is challenging him.
Microsoft just announced that it will be partnering with Volvo to develop automotive technology. At best, this marks the entrance of one of the world’s great technology companies into the self-driving car market.
The text of the announcement, though, seems far more prosaic.
The stated plan is for Volvo to use Microsoft’s virtual reality technology to transform the car buying process:
Imagine enhancing your car buying experience at the dealership by viewing the complete inside of the vehicle you are interested in. With the power of holograms, we have the ability to open the car up completely, take a closer look at the engine, inspect the chassis or watch the drivetrain and transmission in action. Imagine viewing and customizing the car of your personal choosing, and viewing it at scale. You could have access to the full array of options, features and possibilities associated with every car make and model. Imagine then seeing the car you’ve configured, at full scale, as a high-definition hologram projected into your garage, long before the car has even been manufactured.
Perhaps this is a first foray into the automotive industry, a precursor of bigger things to come.
By itself, though, it’s pretty small. Transforming the auto buying process may not be a big deal if people stop buying cars altogether.
Elon Musk has announced that Tesla’s autopilot division is hiring “hardcore software engineers“, no autopilot experience necessary.
Elsewhere, the tech economy is starting to look a little unstable, but for self-driving cars, the game is on.