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Autonomous Vehicles This year’s Consumer Electronics Show could be summed up in one word: Cars. However, the vehicles on show at CES 2017 weren’t just flashy supercars with futuristic bodywork. Automakers and software developers alike used the event to demonstrate their latest developments in autonomous (and electric) technology. The end of car ownership as we know it has been talked about for some time, ever since the first driverless car prototypes hit the roads almost a decade ago. Now, the market is swarming with major manufacturers and ambitious start-ups. In the last few years, a rush of companies have revealed Level 2 and 3 semi-autonomous systems. With most businesses looking towards 2020 as the year of mass Level 4 and 5 autonomy, who’s in the race to build the first, and the best, driverless vehicles?

2 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Autonomous driving levels 0 to 5 The driver is in complete control of the vehicle in traditional, manual drive. There are no driver-assistance systems.

Most of the vehicle’s functions are carried out by the driver, although some can be completed by the car with supervision. This includes acceleration and steering.

The majority of functions still remain under the driver’s control, but driver-assistance systems can be applied to acceleration, breaking and deceleration using information about the surrounding environment. As this happens, the driver has their hands off of the steering wheel and their feet off of the pedals. They can take back control at any time. The driver is still necessary, but can hand over complete control of safety-critical settings to the vehicle in certain conditions, e.g., congested traffic. The driver can intervene, but is rarely needed. Level 3 represents the transfer of control from the driver to the car.

All major functions are undertaken by the car itself and the driver doesn’t have to intervene or take control. Autonomy can be achieved in the vast majority of environments, except in extreme, off-road conditions.

All functions are carried out by the vehicle and the car’s performance is able to match that of a human driver. Autonomy is still slightly limited in terms of extreme environments, but can be achieved in almost all situations. / 3


50 companies

4 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020



Hardware & software





Faraday Future



Fiat Chrysler





General Motors

Didi Chuxing







Jaguar Landrover



John Deere



Lucid Motors





Mercedes Benz




Mitsubishi Electric







Peugeot Citreon












Qualcomm49 Seegrid50 Uber51 Udacity52 Valeo53 Wheego54 Zoox54 / 5



Nvidia for ten years. At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2017, the two firms announced their plans to create AI-equipped autonomous cars which will be on the road by 2020. The system

Audi was amongst the first major manufacturers to take an interest in autonomous technology, and began testing driverless systems as of 2013. Audi has claimed that the new A8 model will be the first fully autonomous car on sale and is due to hit the market this year. Level 2 autonomous features include ‘traffic jam assist’ , which is able to fully control the car in congested traffic up to 60mph, and park assist, which does exactly what you’d expect it to via a smartphone app. The next generation A8, A7, A6 and new Q8 cars in Audi’s autonomous range are also reported to include predictive technology that learns about user behaviour and preferences. The cars will also monitor the driver and switch to a ‘fail-safe’ mode if they fall ill or leave the driver’s seat. Audi has been working with American software company

6 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

includes an autopilot function which reads the surrounding environment and makes decisions based on real-time information. Audi also demonstrated their autonomous Q7 model at the conference. The automaker has received permission to begin testing on public roads in California and other State in 2018.

BMW BMW, now a century-old automotive company, joins the likes of Audi as one of the first big automakers to begin developing autonomous cars. In 2014, they released a car which could break,

deliverables include an emergency stop feature

steer and accelerate without intervention from the

which recognises if the driver is incapacitated. At

driver, demonstrating its capabilities by navigating

this year’s CES conference in Las Vegas, BMW has

through traffic cones. In 2015, BMW worked with

announced that it will create a pilot version of their

Chinese company Baidu to test autonomous Series

ultimate autonomous project, the iNext, which

3 models in China, but the partnership broke

will be fully unveiled in 2021. The company will

down. However, since the summer of last year,

deploy a test fleet of 40 vehicles on public roads

BMW has been working with software developers

in the second half of 2017. Harald Kruger, BMW

Intel and Mobileye to further the development of

chairman of the board, has described the iNext as

driverless technology. The 2016 7 Series model

“the next generation of electro-mobility,� implying

includes a traffic jam assistant which allows the

that the car will be electric. The company has

car to apply corrective steering and follow the

decided to take an open, collaborative approach

car ahead. As well as this, the car can park itself

to development, encouraging competitors to join

with no external influence from the driver. Other

together to fuel advancements. / 7


Faraday Future Faraday Future is an American technology company which was founded in 2014 and focuses on the development of intelligent electric vehicles. They have received funding from Chinese electronics company LeTV, who are also developing their own autonomous products. The young firm revealed its first concept vehicle at CES 2016, and at this year’s conference they debuted their first consumer product, the FF91. The model is described as ‘the first of the species’. It’s currently the world’s fastest-accelerating electric car, directly competing with electric vehicle pioneers Tesla Motors. It is available to pre-order now before regular orders open in 2018, and is reported to cost $10,000. Last June, Faraday Future received a permit to test autonomous vehicles from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, making them one of fourteen other companies to receive testing permission. Every

8 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

test vehicle uses electronic interfaces and sensors which are connected to motors, brakes, steering and other controls, and require one human test driver to supervise the car. As well as California, Faraday Future has plans to test in Detroit and has applied for a permit there. The start up’s progress demonstrates that younger companies can catch up to the biggest players in the race to create consumer-ready driverless cars, as well as emphasising the close relationship between electric and autonomous vehicles.

Fiat Chrysler Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, began developing autonomy in 1995. At the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, CEO Sergio Marchionne stated that the company would not ‘get carried away’ with autonomous

connectivity and driver-specific deliverables, it’s

vehicles before they were financially plausible.

also got an interesting external lighting system

None-the-less, the company has developed a

which will be very important in communicating

new Portal concept car which was debuted at

the vehicle’s behaviour to surrounding

CES 2017. The new model is an electric-battery

pedestrians. In-car voice recognition allows the

powered vehicle, with Level 3 semi-autonomous

Portal to set up user preferences and respond to

capabilities which will eventually be upgraded to

commands. Chrysler worked with Samsung and

fully-driverless Level 4 settings. According to the

Panasonic to develop connectivity and display, and

company, the Portal is designed for ‘millennials’.

teamed up with Google in 2016, making them the

It comes with V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle

first automaker to go into partnership with the

communication) and (V2I) vehicle to infrastructure

tech giants. The two companies have specifically

communication. The Portal isn’t really a car at all

worked together to develop self-driving

– it’s actually a van that can seat six passengers,

capabilities in 100 Pacific hybrid mini-vans, and

which isn’t surprising considering that’s where

although they are currently being road-tested

the company’s expertise lie. Among the usual

there are no plans to make them publicly available. / 9



the automotive industry, this progress may seem slow. According to CEO Mark Fields, Ford hasn’t released self-driving cars yet because they want to make sure that when they do, their model aligns

Ford, one of the oldest and most successful car manufacturers in the world, plans to have developed a fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing by 2021. The company is working with four different start-ups to achieve this aim, and has doubled its teams working in Silicon Valley and Palo Alto. While they may not be introducing their own driverless cars for another couple of years, Uber and Ford partnered in 2016 to release autonomous taxis in Pittsburgh. The fleet consists of 14 Ford Fusions fitted with 20 cameras, seven lasers and rooftop-mounted GPS. Ford are also testing their own 30-strong fleet of Fusion Hybrids in California. By 2019, Ford will follow in the footsteps of Audi and BMW by introducing two Level 2 autonomous systems – traffic jam assist and automated parking. For such a big name in

10 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

with the company ethos of accessibility. Ford wants to offer an autonomous car that everyone can access, not just those with a bigger budget. That being said, Fields stated that the automaker is currently fulfilling its ‘Ford Smart Mobility’ plan, which prioritises continued R&D into autonomous technology, Internet of Things connectivity and Big Data analytics. So, whilst they may not have revealed a fully driverless car, when they do it will appeal to a mass consumer market.

General Motors General Motors is another major, multinational manufacturer keen to offer autonomous cars. At the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in 2014, GM announced that it planned to introduce auto-pilot capabilities into certain models available to buy in 2016. Up until last year, GM remained quiet about their plans for driverless

and plan to launch their first self-driving vehicle

technology, but have since embarked on what has

via the Lyft app. According to the company, next

been called an ‘aggressive’ policy of expansion.

generation autonomous vehicles will go into

One of their first moves was to purchase

production at GM’s Orion Township factory in

automotive startup Cruise Automation last year

Michigan at the beginning of this year. The electric

for a reported $1 billion, as well as creating a fleet

Bolt EV is currently made at the facility, and the

of 30 electric, self-driving Chevrolet Bolt cars.

driverless cars built by the firm will be based on

Testing began in San Francisco in May, and the

the award-winning model. They will be equipped

following month in Scottsdale in Arizona. Another

with cameras, sensors and LiDAR (Light Detection

key move was investing $500 million in ride

and Ranging) and will be tested on public roads in

hailing app Lyft. Like Ford, GM favour accessibility

Detroit. / 11



or in urban areas, and developers are reluctant to call it self-driving at all. Towards the end of 2016, however, it was rumoured that Honda had entered into talks with Google’s parent company Alphabet. There’s potential for the automotive

Honda have given their autonomous deliverables

manufacturer to strike a deal with Waymo,

the collective name of Honda Sensing, which

Alphabet’s new unit focusing on autonomous

enables vehicles to follow the car in front and

driving, but an agreement is yet to be confirmed.

keeps the car in the right lane by watching road

Although their current system includes standard

markings. Honda Sensing can also warn the driver

Level 2 autonomy, by 2020 the firm aims to have

of a potential collision risk and apply automated

developed basic automated highway driving.

breaking when a collision is imminent. This

The company’s ultimate aim, looking forward as

technology is available in some of the automaker’s

far as 2040, is to have completely eliminated car

most affordable models, including the Civic LX

crashes in their vehicles.

Sedan which costs under $20,500. The LX is fitted with ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) software. Unlike Audi’s traffic jam assist, Honda’s technology can be applied at any speed. Following an increase in traffic related deaths in 2015, some politicians advocate that ADAS should be made available in all light vehicles. Despite this, the system is not recommended for use on back roads

12 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Hyundai Hyundai has already equipped their G90 Sedans

autonomous vehicles with smart domestic spaces.

with semi-autonomy, and is developing full

In short, imagine a car that exists as a detachable

autonomy for its affordable IONIQ range. Last year,

part of the house. At the moment, the autonomous

they began building a new mobility testing ground

IONIQ relies on detailed mapping which removes

near Detroit. The company revealed their low-cost

the need for bulky sensors. While this makes the

driverless car at the 2016 LA Auto Show, stating

vehicle more lightweight and cheaper to produce,

that the vehicle would be demonstrated at CES

it also restricts it to built-up, urban areas. In 2015,

2017. Unlike many other models, Hyundai have

Hyundai teamed up with fellow automaker Kia

opted for a design that, if not for the bold lettering

to invest $2 billion towards new advanced driver

across the body, would not suggest anything

assistance programming and hire more engineers.

unordinary about the car. The main tell-tale sign

They have also announced a partnership with

of an autonomous car is the LiDAR system, usually

IoT giants Cisco to develop Internet-connected

placed on the roof. Hyundai have hidden the laser

settings. When it comes to production, Hyundai

detection system in the front bumper instead. As

have set 2021 as the benchmark for rolling out

well as test driving the IONIQ on LA roads at CES

consumer-ready cars.

2017, the automotive manufacturer also announced their ‘Mobility Vision’ concept, which mixes / 13


Jaguar Land Rover Jaguar Land Rover head of R&D Wolfgang Epple

working on V2V communication called ‘Over

stated at a press event in 2015 that Jaguar Land

the Horizon Warning’ , which will notify vehicles

Rover were interested in developing autonomous

of hazards and obstacles. Staying true to form,

technology, not ‘driverless’ technology. Although

Jaguar Land Rover vehicles won’t be confined to

the company are developing semi and fully

built-up areas – the company is also developing

autonomous capabilities, they still see the driver

autonomous off-roaders. They believe that for

as a key aspect of the driving experience. Despite

a car to be fully autonomous, it needs to be able

some confusion over semantics, the automaker

to cope with different terrains and weather

announced last year that they would begin

conditions. Since the summer of 2016, modified

testing an impressively large fleet of 100 self-

semi-autonomous Range Rover Sports have been

driving cars in the U.K. by 2020. The research

used to navigate off-road environments using

cars will be tested on a 41-mile long route near

cameras, sensors and terrain mapping – although

Coventry, focusing on urban driving environments

a human driver is still present to control the

and motorways. Jaguar Land Rover showcased

steering wheel whilst the car accelerates.

a number of the driverless systems under development at the UK Autodrive demonstrations held in October 2016. Capabilities include Level 2 autonomous systems like Advanced Highway Assist and ‘Safe Pullaway’. Developers are also

14 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

John Deere John Deere manufactures machinery and equipment for agriculture, construction and forestry. They might seem like a surprising name to see on this list, but they’ve actually been

was estimated that over half of farmers use some

working on self-drive technologies for 15 years

form of auto-steer. More than 60% of new John

and are now the leading company in autonomous

Deere tractor models are fitted with AutoTrac

agriculture. Tractors makers in general have been

software and operate in over 100 countries – which

applying satellite technology to plot courses for

makes them the largest operators of autonomous

decades, however John Deere has taken it one step

vehicles worldwide. The American company are

further by removing the need for manual control.

currently working on cab-less concept tractors,

The result of their research is AutoTrac, which

and as if this wasn’t enough, they’ve also

allows the tractor to follow programmed routes

developed an autonomous lawn mower called the

and apply automatic steering. The autonomous

Tango E5, which costs just over £2,000. In 2008,

technology sold by John Deere is less advanced

John Deere released its ITEC Pro guidance product

than that used in fully driverless cars, however

which uses GPS to automate vehicle paths. Instead

the number of tractor models in use which have

of the lasers favoured by automakers, the tractors

driverless capabilities is staggering. Last year, it

use antennas. / 15


Lucid Motors Lucid Motors is a luxury car manufacturer based in California. The company was founded in 2007 by ex-Tesla vice president Bernard Tse, originally as a battery technology company. After receiving Series C funding in 2014, they announced their

for their autonomous cars. At CES 2017, the

first luxury electric vehicle (EV) in December 2016.

automakers revealed the alpha prototype of the

The Lucid Air comes with self-driving capabilities,

new luxury EV, §complete with a full camouflage

but apart from stating that the car would be

paint job. Much like competitors Tesla, Lucid

‘autonomous ready’ , few details were given. It

Motors have promised that all of their cars will

was disclosed, however, that the Lucid Air would

come with the necessary hardware to eventually

include voice controls and a flat-screen TV, and

bring about full autonomy. The cars will be built

be able to change lanes automatically. Eventually,

in Arizona and initially launch in the U.S., with

the model will offer a complete Advanced Driver

plans to expand into Europe and Asia. CTO Peter

Assistance System (ADAS), followed by full

Rawlinson is confident that the self-driving model

autonomy. Lucid Motors have partnered up with

will be consumer-ready by 2019, undercutting

Israeli technology company Mobileye to supply

competitors with their eye on 2020. The Lucid Air,

cameras as well as radar and LiDAR sensors

currently installed with semi-autonomous ADAS settings, will go on sale next year.

16 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Mazda Mazda was last year described by Forbes as perhaps

company is keen to encourage the continuation of

the only car manufacturer not to be working

driving as a recreational, enjoyable activity, it’s clear

on autonomous cars. According to Mazda CEO

that the development of autonomous features has

Masamichi Kogai, driving is about the enjoyment of

been necessary to offer competitive products. All

the journey, not simply getting from A to B. Late in

of the semi-autonomous settings focus on safety,

2016, this position remained seemingly unchanged

retaining the driver as the key actor in the driving

when Managing Director Martin Benders said it

process. Despite suggestions that autonomous cars

made no sense to rely on autonomy first and then

will totally replace traditional ones, the Australian

add human drivers in afterwards. Even so, this

automaker seems more interested in producing

year the company revealed the latest Mazda 3

standard manual vehicles with legacy rotary

Maxx with semi-autonomous capabilities, priced

engines. However, what looks like indifference

at a reasonable $20,500. The Maxx model, as well

is just part of a strategy that integrates semi-

as the new SP25 GT, include automated emergency

autonomous deliverables as seamlessly as possible

breaking controls for use at low speeds. There’s also

with the human driver. For example, Mazda’s Active

G-Vectoring Control, which automatically steadies

Driving Display shows important information on

the vehicle on corners. The SP25 GT vehicles are

the windscreen itself, without the driver having to

equipped with Level 2 autonomy systems like Driver

avert their attention from the road.

Attention Alert and Lane-Keep Assist. Whilst the / 17


Mercedes Benz Mercedes Benz was an early adopter of driverless cars, opening an R&D centre in 1995 which, to this day, has worked on autonomous driving alongside apps and battery technology. Through

Drive E-Class, which is the tenth generation of

years of research, the automotive company have

their business saloon model. As well as operative

developed the S500 Intelligent Drive program,

settings activated by touch, the E-Class offers a

which they’ve experimented with on special

new semi-autonomous system called DRIVE PILOT.

designated roads in Silicon Valley. The program

Mercedes Benz has also collaborated with software

is marketed as an ‘intelligent partner’ which

platform CityPilot to create an autonomous bus.

combines sensors and systems to detect and even

This year, they received permission from the

respond to dangerous situations, for instance

city of Stuttgart in Germany to begin testing

through automatic breaking. In 2013, the company

autonomous vehicles on public roads. Much like

released its first Level 2 autonomous system called

Uber’s autonomous fleet in Pittsburgh, the cars

DISTRONIC PLUS. As well as this, they successfully

will be monitored by two human operators. The

completed the famous Bertha Benz route using

new models include deep learning technologies,

their autonomous S-Class vehicle. At CES 2016,

GPU and LiDAR sensors. Mercedes have worked

Mercedes Benz revealed the new Intelligent

with European companies like the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Nokia to develop driverless capabilities.

18 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Mitsubishi Mitsubishi, the Japanese automotive firm recently announced plans for an autonomous car due for release in 2020. The company revealed the Emirai3 xAuto at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show. The concept car uses AI which uses real time

the 2016 Geneva International Motor Show. Again,

information from the surrounding environment

the technology is decidedly Level 2, focusing

to predict the behaviour of other road users.

on assisted parking and altering speed using

It also has 3D mapping, which is necessary for

information collected by sensors and cameras.

automated parking. On top of this, the car has

Mitsubishi has used some interesting base

some impressive safety settings – for example,

technology to achieve their concept cars, namely

it can apply autonomous breaking and uses early

missile components (yes, missile components)

detection to avoid objects. Through V2V and R2V

such as sonar appliances and incredibly high-

(Road-to-Vehicle) communication, other cars can

precision sensors. Katsumi Adachi, Senior Chief

run alongside the Emirai3 xAuto as it navigates

Engineer at Mitsubishi Electric’s automotive

through different environments. As well as the

division, stated that this year the company will

2015 Emirai, Mitsubishi revealed the electric eX

offer better lane-keeping and automated breaking

Concept SUV with semi-autonomous capabilities at

than competitors. With so many players in the game, it will be interesting to see if Mitsubishi can catch up. / 19



which allows the vehicle to change lanes. The next step in their two-year advancement window is to make a completely autonomous system by 2020 that can be used safely in urban environments.

Nissan are a particularly ambitious automotive

At the moment, drivers have to keep their hands

manufacturer that seemed to be a late entrance

in contact with the wheel in order for ProPILOT to

into the race for autonomous cars. Despite this,

function, but this requirement will presumably be

the Japanese automaker plans to have made 10

unnecessary in updated versions of the driverless

different autonomous models available to the

system. One of the most intriguing things about

public by 2020. The company plans to add a new

Nissan’s autonomous plan is their interest in

level of autonomy every couple of years, beginning

developing a car which understands different

with Level 2 ProPILOT in 2016. Through ProPILOT,

social contexts. What that might mean is anyone’s

a vehicle can drive itself on a single lane on the

guess, but it looks like the automaker might equip

motorway, controlling breaking and steering.

their driverless vehicles with external lights like

The first vehicles equipped with the system went

those of Chrysler’s Portal car to communicate

on sale last summer as part of the new Serena


minivan, which was sold in Japan. Customers had to pay an extra $1,000 for ProPILOT, and an impressive majority of 70% did just that. This year, sales will open to the European market. In 2018, Nissan plans to release a new version of ProPILOT

20 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Porsche Porsche, like Mazda, German have openly stated that their main aim is to offer the best driving experience without necessarily implementing driverless technology. In fact, in November 2016, CEO Oliver Blume bluntly said that when a customer buys a Porsche, they will drive it

of convenience, according to Blume) which will

themselves. By 2020, the year of numerous fully-

include traffic and park assist features. The car will

autonomous releases, Porsche will instead release

also be able to pick up its driver after an excursion

their much-anticipated semi-autonomous EV, the

to a restaurant, for example. This month, motor

Mission E. The electric car was first revealed at the

enthusiasts who had test-driven Porsche’s new

2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, and comes with some

but traditional, drive-it-yourself Boxster claimed

interesting deliverables including eye tracking

that it felt more like a self-driving car than other

and gesture control – which point to at least some

semi-autonomous models due to the quality of

driverless capabilities. Even though the company

the driving experience. In short, Porsche stands

seems set against developing fully driverless

in contrast to the rest of the automotive world and

models, they will continue to equip their cars with

seems to be positioning itself as a premium sports

a certain level of semi-autonomy (for the sake

car manufacturer. Whether this bold move will pay off remains to be seen. / 21


Peugeot Citroen Peugeot Citroen, also known as Groupe PSA, is

over if the actual driver shows signs of fatigue or

a multi-national French automaker with a keen

stops paying attention. According to the company,

interest in autonomous technology. In 2015, an

the driver remains in control during autonomous

autonomous prototype developed by the company

processes and can take over at any time – although

journeyed 360 miles from Paris to Bordeaux,

it’s hard not to think of it as a watchful driving

exhibiting auto-speed and independent lane

instructor. PSA see their Level 2 driverless settings as

changing without intervention from a human

a necessary step towards fully self-driving vehicles,

operator. The vehicle also included pedestrian

although as shown they have already ventured

awareness, collision avoidance and automated

successfully into Level 3 capabilities. In April 2016,

breaking. As the car enabled full automation

two Citroen C4 Picasso autonomous prototypes made

without cues from a driver, it achieved Level 3

another successful, driverless journey from Velizy to

autonomy. As of last year, PSA revealed Automated

a major conference in Amsterdam. Peugeot Citroen

Driving, an integrated system which offers

are certainly ambitious about their plans for the

safety-focused Level 2 autonomy including speed

future, and it’s not difficult to see why. The company

management and auto-steering. Through internal

have announced that fully driverless cars will be

and external sensors, the car can check if the

publicly available by 2018.

driver is adhering to correct road safety – for example, applying appropriate speed. Automated Driving is marketed as a co-driver which takes

22 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Subaru Subaru announced plans to integrate Level 2 autonomy into their vehicles last year. Their camera-based driverless system, EyeSight, had already been sold in over one million units by November 2016. EyeSight includes adaptive cruise

the systems are not meant to substitute careful

control, automated breaking and Lane Keep

driving. This year, the company plans to add

Assist. At the end of last year, Subaru models

Traffic Jam Assist to the list, which will enable

including the new 2017 Subaru Legacy came fitted

automated stopping, starting and steering but only

with the system, and was so impressive in terms

up to 40mph. By 2020, Subaru aims to introduce

of technology and safety that all cars equipped

semi-autonomy for use on motorways using radar

with the system have been awarded the highest

sensors and GPS along with existing EyeSight

available rating by the U.S. Insurance Institute

capabilities. The company teamed up with IBM

for Highway Safety (IIHS). EyeSight also has an

Japan last Spring to enhance EyeSight using IBM

awareness not just of other cars on the road, but of

Watson, and also explore the possibility of adding

pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists too. Even

cloud connectivity and Artificial Intelligence.

though this is clearly a step towards higher levels

Like most other manufacturers, Subaru is

of autonomy, Subaru are keen to emphasise that

developing EVs which will come with their current autonomous system as standard. / 23



true safety of Autopilot, the company is betatesting its system on the public as opposed to just its own engineers. In October 2016, Tesla stated that all cars made by the company would now

Tesla Motors once had a seeming monopoly

come equipped with hardware that enables self-

on Electric Vehicles, and was one of the first

driving capabilities. In 2015, Musk announced that

companies to introduce autonomous systems

the automotive manufacturer was just two years

into its cars. They are now ‘the one to beat’ when

away from full autonomy. Right on schedule, it

it comes to automotive tech. As early as 2014,

was revealed in October 2016 that all cars made by

CEO Elon Musk was openly discussing the arrival

Tesla would be fitted with the hardware needed to

of driverless vehicles by 2020. Before Mercedes

deliver total autonomy. The driverless Model S and

caught up, Tesla were the first automaker to

Model X lines are currently in the production stage.

boast lane-change technology. Their Level 2

Tesla, ambitious as always, aims to demonstrate

autonomous system, revealed at the end of 2015,

the ability of their autonomous vehicles by

is called Autopilot. Capabilities include auto-

completing a driverless journey across the U.S. by

steer, automatic lane change, auto-park, collision

the end of this year.

warning and Traffic-Aware Cruise Control. Unfortunately for Tesla, Autopilot has been involved in a number of crashes – in May 2016, one driver even died in an incident with a semiautonomous Model S. Despite questions over the

24 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Toyota Toyota spends more on research (around $10 billion per year) than any other car manufacturer. Despite this, the company is a latecomer to the driverless race, currently playing a game of catch-up with

Google was using Toyota cars as the basis for

other automotive businesses. The announcement

their self-drive technology as early as 2012. The

of a $1 billion investment in a brand new Toyota

automaker later turned down a partnership with

Research Institute focused on autonomous vehicles

the tech giants, supposedly to protect their own

and robotics shows just how serious they are

manufacturing expertise. As of last year, Toyota’s

about creating a competitive model. The company

wary position on driverless tech has taken a

is also entering partnerships with Stanford

U-turn. Since 2016, the company has been testing

University, the University of Michigan and the

a semi-autonomous model which is expected to

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Of the two

be able to drive itself on motorways. The car is

emerging camps in the development of autonomy,

called the ‘Teammate Concept’ , and will hit the

Toyota joins Mazda, Porsche and Subaru on the

market in – you guessed it – 2020. At CES 2017,

side that envisions integrated driverless controls

Toyota jumped camps to join the fully autonomous

rather than fully-fledged, self-driving systems.

enthusiasts and revealed the Concept-i, a

Whilst Toyota may be a self-confessed latecomer,

driverless car which will be consumer ready in 2030. / 25



autonomous cars. In October, their new Volvo XC90 SUVs hit the roads in Pittsburgh, which Uber have already established as their territory. Another partner is Ericsson, tasked with providing the technology to stream media via the car’s

Volvo have been important players in the

dashboard. Volvo is also working independently,

development of driverless vehicles. At the 2015 LA

and ambitiously plans to achieve full autonomy

International Auto Show, the Swedish car-makers

this year. At the moment, the manufacturer is

demonstrated their commitment to a future of

preparing a fleet of 100 fully driverless cars for

driverless cars by revealing ‘Concept 26’ , AKA the

testing in Beijing as part of the ‘Drive-Me’ trial

Time Machine, which is a sleek interior system

program – which will also be launched in London

for autonomous vehicles. As of 2016, Volvo have

early this year. Following this period of testing,

developed their own semi-autonomous system

the vehicles will be available for customers in

called Pilot Assist, which has been introduced

the company’s native Sweden. For now, the

in all 2017 models including the popular S90

autonomous features will be limited to roads that

Sedan. Capabilities include the standard lane-

can be GPS tracked.

keeping, traffic-following and speed-monitoring features. The system works by using cameras and sensors, and the company has revealed that future autonomy will be enabled by ultrasonic sensors, surround radar and long-range radar. Last year, the automaker joined forces with Uber to develop

26 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Volkswagen Volkswagen is the largest car manufacturer

using a touch sensitive steering wheel which

worldwide. Having recently suffered from a high-

retracts into the dashboard once driverless mode

profile diesel emissions scandal, the company

is activated, an Augmented Reality display that

is looking to new technology to future-proof

shows important information on the windscreen

its business strategy. However, according to

and V2V communication. Autonomous features

VW Group CEO Matthias Muller, plans for fully

are available up to 80mph, and the van is expected

autonomous cars were laid down in 2015. Their

to go on sale sometime between 2022 and 2025.

Electronics Research Laboratory in Silicon Valley

At CES earlier this month, VW showcased I.D.

is currently focused on autonomous technology,

Concept, an electric, semi-autonomous car which

connectivity-enabled driving and a concept called

will be market-ready in 2020. Driverless features

eMobility – in other words, the development of

will come as standard, however it’s uncertain

EVs. Electric and autonomous cars seem to go

as to what these will be. For now, it’s safe to

hand in hand, characterising the future of the

assume that they will include Level 2 capabilities

automotive industry. At the 2017 Detroit auto

such as automated breaking. VW has teamed

show, VW revealed their I.D. Buzz concept van,

up with various academic partners including

an EV which will go into direct competition with

Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute

Chrysler’s new Portal. The I.D. Buzz is designed

of Technology and the University of California-

for autonomous as well as traditional journeys,

Berkeley. / 27

Hardware & Software

Apple It’s been speculated that notoriously secretive tech giants Apple have been quietly tinkering with driverless technology since 2015. Their mysterious research into self-driving cars has been widely

that they would focus on the Operating System

referred to as ‘Project Titan’ , but unsurprisingly,

within vehicles rather than vehicles themselves.

rumours remained unconfirmed. It wasn’t until

As testament to this, Apple have released CarPlay.

December 2016 that the software company finally

CarPlay is an in-car info-entertainment system

admitted that they were developing autonomous

that syncs the driver’s smartphone with the

vehicles, aiming to sell around 500,000 Apple

car display via a lightning cable. Whilst CarPlay

cars per year. Apple have also contacted the U.S.

might sound like an accident waiting to happen,

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

it responds to voice controls and uses Siri to relay

(NHTSA) to gather information about the best

information, which means the driver can keep

strategy to take in developing self-driving, electric

their eyes on the road. CarPlay is compatible

vehicles. They’re also poaching staff from top car

across 200 different models, and has proved

manufacturers, including Tesla. Even though Apple

popular with manufacturers as it saves them the

openly stated its interest in autonomous tech,

hassle of designing their own info-entertainment

just two months before this the company alluded

platforms. At the moment, Apple is opening a number of new R&D facilities suspiciously close to leading automakers like Fiat Chrysler.

28 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


Motor to create a prototype that could navigate a closed road, overtake other vehicles at speed and avoid a bicycle. The car was showcased at the 2016 World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, alongside an announcement that Baidu had teamed up with

Baidu is a Chinese software company that

Foton Motor Group to develop an autonomous

was founded in 2000 and began researching

truck with the modest name of ‘Super Truck’.

autonomous technology in 2014. The Internet

This is an example of how driverless trucks and

provider already has expertise in AI, deep learning,

vans are generating just as much interest as

big data and advanced mapping, which have all

cars. None-the-less, Baidu plans to release a

come into play to fuel their automotive vision to

small number of autonomous cars in 2018, with

sense and navigate without human input. Having

wider production beginning in 2020. By 2030, the

previously worked with BMW, Baidu called off

Chinese firm stated that all of their cars would

the partnership due to conflicting interests in

come with fully or highly autonomous capabilities.

November 2016. The company have now turned

The vehicles currently tested by Baidu have Level

to Ford to provide the models for U.S. testing. In

4 driverless status, which means that they can

August 2016, they were awarded an Autonomous

successfully complete safe journeys without

Vehicle Testing Permit from California’s

human intervention.

Department for Motor Vehicles. Baidu and Ford have jointly invested $150 million in Velodyne, their chosen provider of autonomy-enabling LiDAR technology. They have also worked with Chinese manufacturers Chery, BYD and BAIC / 29

Hardware & Software

the organisation responded by promptly issuing a ‘cease and desist’ warning. Eventually, the project was dropped. One month is a vehicle automation and machine

later, open-sourced

learning company, set up by George Hotz in 2015.

their self-driving software

Hotz is a 27-year old American hacker known for

(named Open Pilot) as well as

hijacking the iPhone in 2007 and, much to Apple’s

a build-your-own hardware

annoyance, making it comply with carriers other

platform called Comma Neo. Startup Neodriven

than AT&T. Now, he is using his knowledge of AI to

used the software to create a car-mountable

challenge the likes of Tesla in the race to create the

computer which was demonstrated at CES 2017 in

first fully autonomous cars. is firmly

a Honda Civic. The car was able to follow traffic,

focused on software, with a view to develop and

keep within lanes and apply automatic breaking.

sell a conversion kits that can make any traditional

Hotz has claimed that he has entered talks with

car made after 1996 into a driverless vehicle. In

Tesla CEO Elon Musk, with a view to selling his

2015, Hotz revealed plans to create a $1,000 product

technology to the automaker and replacing their

called Comma One that could give any car semi-

current software partner Mobileye. No agreement

autonomous capabilities. This might sound like an

has been confirmed, but Hotz remains confident

ambitious pipedream, but the technology has been

that his company can even outdo the likes of

used to successfully create an autonomous Acura

Google. At CES 2017, he said that wants

ILX. Unfortunately, this was not well-received by

to become the Android of autonomous driving.

the California Department for Motor Vehicles –

30 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


the Silicon Valley Deep Learning Group in 2016, Iandola stated that DeepScale had the necessary ingredients to build the best perception systems for practical driverless technology. He emphasised that DNNs had overtaken algorithms and were

DeepScale is a mysterious startup that was

the more efficient way to move forward with

founded in 2015 by Forrest Iandola, a PhD graduate

autonomous software. DeepScale is one of

from the University of California, Berkley, and

many new companies quietly investing in the

Kurt Keutzer, a Professor of Electronic Engineering

development of next generation technologies,

and Computer Science (EECS), also based at

and have been flagged as a startup to keep close

Berkley. The team includes two more Berkley

watch on over the course of 2017. At the moment,

graduates with degrees in EECS. According to their

DeepScale’s online presence is understated at best,

website, which is minimalist to say the least, the

however the company has divulged that it has

company provides perception for autonomous

entered talks with a number of potential partners.

vehicles. The group’s technology mainly focuses on training data for Machine Learning algorithms and rapid deep neural networks (DNN), with an aim to deploy DNN in connected Internet of Things applications. Co-founder Iandola has given a number of presentations concerning perception for autonomous driving, including the 2016 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR). At an event organised by / 31

Hardware & Software

Delphi Automotive Delphi Automotive is a U.K.-based automaker

concept which uses cloud-based technology.

which also supplies automotive technologies.

Alongside fellow software developers Mobileye,

They have received support from the European

Delphi demonstrated an autonomous Audi kitted

Union in the form of EU grants for their operations

out with ADAS at CES 2017 earlier this month.

in Hungary, Poland and Romania. In 2015, the

The vehicle navigated the streets of LA smoothly

company announced that it was working to

without human intervention. In November 2016,

improve self-drive capabilities, and debuted

Delphi and Mobileye also signed a deal with Intel

their first autonomous model at CES 2015. The

to provide high-power processors. The companies

car, named Roadrunner, successfully completed

have stated that they will bring a fully self-

a 9-day, 3,400-mile journey from San Francisco

driving, Level 4 autonomous system to market in

Bay in California to New York City. The vehicle

2019. The system will reportedly be available for

used long-range and short-range radars, vision-

a variety of different models. Looking forward,

based cameras, LiDAR technology, intelligent

Delphi envisions a future where road fatalities and

software algorithms, as well as ADAS. A team of

incidents are completely eradicated.

engineers were present throughout the process. In the summer of 2016, Delphi were chosen by the Singapore Land Transport Agency to test a fleet of fully autonomous taxis in the city. The project is part of a ‘mobility-on-demand’ transport

32 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Didi Chuxing Didi Chuxing is the world’s largest ride sharing company, making remarkable progress since it was founded in 2012. In summer 2016, Apple made a $1 billion investment in the Chinese company, supposedly to learn about the autonomous vehicle market in China. Last August, in a $35 billion deal, Didi Chuxing acquired Uber China after the company failed to make an impact. Towards the end of 2016, CEO Cheng Wei revealed that the company was looking into developing its own driverless car project, and has already entered

Silicon Valley for new talent. It’s still uncertain

talks with driverless startup UiSee Technology.

as to whether Didi Chuxing will acquire UiSee, or

UiSee is currently working on road-scanning

build up its own team, or both – but either way,

technology and showcased a fully autonomous EV

the resources gained from buying out Uber will

at CES 2017. The two companies have openly stated

undoubtedly help them in their development. The

that their visions for the future are compatible,

company have also teamed up with VW to provide

so a partnership seems likely. As well as other

a high-end, electric car hailing service which

Chinese firms, Didi Chuxing is also looking to

could, in future, become autonomous. / 33

Hardware & Software

focus on perception. However, they are also interested in making cars more human and allowing them to  communicate with  the world. This communication will be achieved using uses artificial intelligence technology

sensors, LED lights and sound. The company

for self-driving vehicles. The company was

hasn’t revealed any plans concerning hardware 

founded in 2015 by a team of graduates from

development, although they have hinted at a

Stanford University and aims to  apply deep

number of anonymous auto partners. Ultimately,

learning to autonomous cars.  After keeping wants to sell the  brains of the car. At the

quiet about their research, the group publicly

moment, the startup has created a roof-mounted 

announced some details about what they had

kit that can be  fitted to any vehicle and has been

been developing in August 2016, as well as new

testing it on different models since last summer. 

board member Steve Girsky, formerly of General Motors. Last April, the company  received an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit, allowing them to  experiment on  Californian roads. Drive. ai sees AI as a vital platform for enabling a car  to understand the  surrounding environment, although they are still using  popular technologies like radar and LiDAR. Like fellow universityborn start-up  DeepScale, the Stanford graduates

34 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Fisker Inc. Fisker Inc. was launched in 2016 as a re-branded Fisker Automotive. The company appears to be particularly focused on electric vehicles, and founder Henrik  Fisker has stated that its first EV will be revealed in the second half of 2017. Late

remains anonymous. Despite a lack of details

last year, the automotive company publicised

concerning autonomy, the car will be able to travel

plans for a luxury  electric car  called the EMotion,

400 miles on a single charge. If this promise

which, according to the company, will rival

materialises, Fisker will boast the  highest range 

Tesla’s existing models. The EMotion will come

of any EV (autonomous or not) on the market.

with the necessary hardware to  facilitate  fully

Tesla’s Model 3 pales in comparison with a range

autonomous driving, but how this will be achieved

of 215 miles. It wouldn’t be the first time that

remains unknown. Fisker Inc. first expressed

Tesla has clashed with Henrik Fisker. The founder

an interest in autonomous cars  in July 2016, so

of Fisker Inc. originally worked for Tesla  before

the integration of some driverless features into

the company unsuccessfully attempted  to sue

any new models isn’t exactly a surprise. It might

him for stealing plans. With few (if any) details to

be an expected move, but everything else about

work from, fellow automakers will simply have to

the self-drive capabilities are anyone’s guess. At

wait and see if Fisker Inc. can deliver a competitive

the moment, Fisker’s chosen technology supplier

model. / 35

Hardware & Software

services. What makes them stand out is their open commitment to Level 5 systems, which is the highest grade of driverless  technology. CEO and co-founder Stan Boland believes that the U.K. has is a U.K.-based startup founded in 2015.

the potential to become  a  major  player  in the

The young company raised $2.7 million  in one

race for autonomous cars. His company has since

round of funding in July 2016. software

promised to bring out  driverless,  6-seater vans  in

applies Artificial Intelligence to the automotive

2019, and is looking for a further $35 million  from

industry with the goal of bringing about various

investors. Whether or not they can raise sufficient

positives that will enhance our lives. This includes

funding remains to be seen.

saving time and money, improve road safety and deliver transportation to those who have limited access to public services. By using AI, avoids the task of extensive road mapping. AI’s predictive nature  has clear benefits  for travel, giving the autonomous car a better understanding  of the  possible outcomes of any given  situation. Like other companies, uses a range of sensors and cameras,  as well as Deep Neural Networks. claim that they are building the  world’s  most  reliable autonomous vehicle

36 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


Lexus SUVs in California and Arizona. Despite the  resources available to Google, they are, first and foremost, a software  developer. Toyota already turned down  a partnership because they wanted to  protect their manufacturing expertise. Like

Google has been all over autonomous vehicles

Apple, Waymo’s tactics involve attracting staff

since 2009, teaming up with ex-partner Toyota to

from automakers. At the end of last year, Waymo

test driverless cars in 2012. A Toyota Prius kitted

revealed their self-driving  Pacifica minivans 

out with Google’s self-drive software was the

built in collaboration with Chrysler, stating

first vehicle of its kind to be given a license in

that they would be road-ready at some point in

the U.S., awarded by the Nevada Department of

2017. According to CEO John Krafcik, they will 

Motor Vehicles. In 2015, Google completed their

launch this January, well ahead of the popular

first fully  autonomous journey  in Texas without a

2020 benchmark. Although there’s a clear push

test driver. The car had no floor pedals or steering

to work on hardware, the company is reportedly

wheels, and although there was one human

shifting their focus to car Operating Systems.

passenger, they weren’t a Google  employee and

They’ve also developed their own in-car  mobile

were in fact legally  blind. As of last year, the

system called Android Auto, which works in

entire research project concerning autonomous

exactly the same way as Apple’s Car Play.

vehicles now exists under the independent  company Waymo. Since summer 2016, Waymo has worked with Fiat Chrysler to  create a fleet of 100  driverless vehicles. Aside from the new fleet, the two  companies have  already  deployed driverless / 37

Hardware & Software


they unveiled their first autonomous prototype. It was tested and demonstrated at a course in Hokkaido. Simple in design but heavy on tech, the car was fitted with  various  cameras, radar, GPS and V2V communication devices. It also used

Hitachi is a hugely diverse conglomerate group

two processors. Unlike other companies with a

with no less than 11 business  sections, including

focus on electronics, Hitachi stands apart from

Automotive Systems. The department was

the crowd as it already has knowledge of auto-

set up in 1910 and so has a long history in the

parts following an early association with Nissan.

automotive industry. Early in 2013, the  Japanese

In 2016, the company worked on improving

firm created a small semi-autonomous  vehicles

their technology, introducing more accurate 

for short journeys called ROPITS, which stands

vehicle localisation technology  to better stabilise

for ‘Robot for Personal Intelligent Transport

the car. At the beginning of last year, they  received

System’. The single-seater used GPS and road-

a permit to test  Level 2 autonomous models on

mapping to follow given routes, but could only

public roads on the island of Honshu in Japan.

reach speeds of under four miles per hour – think

Hitachi plans to commercialise their autonomous

driverless mobility scooters. Whilst ROPTIS

technology by 2018, setting themselves an overall

might not have wowed commentators, it sent a

sales target of $1.2 trillion  for the Automotive

message to competitors that Hitachi was confident

Systems department.

enough to reveal its early autonomous technology. In 2015, Hitachi  stated that it wanted to become a  premier  producer of self-driving systems  for mid-size automakers. In November of  that year,

38 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


up with a  Level 4 – 5 autonomous system by 2019. Not all of Intel’s partners have  been impressed with their software, however – they were  dropped  by  in favour of Nvidia. None-the-less, Intel, Mobileye and BMW  used

As the world’s largest chip maker and a company

their set at CES 2017 to announce that they would

able to deal with extensive data via IoT, Intel has

bring a fleet  of self-driving cars to the roads by

both the experience and knowledge to become a

the end of the year. Looking forward to 2021,

game-changer in automotive technology. At the

this will progress to fully self-driving cars for

end of 2016, the company announced that it would

use in cities, as well as the provision of  an  open

create a new division dedicated to autonomous

platform which can be used by other automobile

driving systems called  the  Automated Driving

manufacturers or ride sharing companies.

Group (ADG). This is part of a company-wide

Intel’s self-proclaimed  aim  is to deliver

strategy to shift their focus away from the PC

autonomous technology for ‘a safer world and a

market, which is far less profitable than it once

better life’. Like partners BMW, Intel are part of 

was. They have recently stated that they plan

the 5G Automotive Association, which develops

to invest  $250 million  in their new automotive

communications for connected road safety.

venture over the next two year. In 2016, the tech company teamed up with BMW to develop  Level  3 self-driving capabilities. Later that year, Intel was chosen as the  processor provider for Delphi and  Mobileye’s autonomous project. The three  companies are working together to come / 39

Hardware & Software


Office 365 with info-entertainment settings. Even Skype and Cortana, Microsoft’s personal assistant, can be used within some models. At CES 2017, Microsoft unveiled a new set of services called the Microsoft Connected Vehicle Platform, built on the

Microsoft has readily stated that it will not create

Microsoft Azure cloud. The platform has five core

its own self-driving car, but will instead work

priorities – predictive maintenance, improved in-

with a variety of manufacturers to enhance the

car productivity, advanced navigation, customer

technology behind driverless vehicles using data

insights and helping partners to build autonomous

and machine learning. The company’s strategy

driving capabilities. The company will analyse

is to become the go-to platform for all intelligent

mass data taken from sensors and use it to help

cars, and they are already well on the way to

automakers apply information to their products. At

achieving this. Microsoft recently announced a

the moment, the platform can’t simply be bought

partnership with Swedish automaker Volvo to

– instead, manufacturers need to integrate the

develop autonomous cars together, as well as

technology with their existing systems. Microsoft

use Microsoft’s Mixed Reality headset HoloLens

are setting themselves up as an enhancer for

to offer an interactive shopping experience.

autonomous technology and a collaborative

Since then, a long list of companies have chosen

partner, rather than as a competitor.

Microsoft for their expertise in software and data analysis. In January 2016, Nissan, Harman and IAV joined the likes of Toyota, Ford and Delphi as official Microsoft partners. These automakers are currently integrating Windows 10 and Microsoft

40 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Mitsubishi Electric Mitsubishi Electric is one of the key branches

detect and avoid obstacles. Sensor technology will

of Japanese parent company Mitsubishi. It is an

also be combined with a quasi-zenith satellite

electronics and electrical equipment supplier

system to provide location data in real time. The

with a multinational customer base, and has a

company plans to begin the production of lane-

department dedicated to transportation. As part

keeping and automatic breaking systems later this

of a company-wide project, Mitsubishi Electric

year. Chief Engineer Katsumi Adachi has promised

have already contributed to the creation of an

that self-driving vehicles powered by Mitsubishi

EV called i-MiEV which was launched as early as

Electric will be road-ready by 2020. At some point

2010. The company created the first autonomous

during the 2020 benchmark, Mitsubishi Electric’s

vehicle for space, which is used to send supplies

parent company will release an autonomous car

to the International Space Station. The technology

(the Emirai3 xAuto) that was first showcased

behind the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) includes

in 2015. With an entire division specialising in

data processing, navigational guidance control

automotive technology, Mitsubishi Electric are

and communications technology. Back on Earth,

definitely one to watch.

Mitsubishi Electric supplies air-to-air missiles to the Japanese army. They have used the same military technology (radar, sonar, cameras and sensors) to enable Mitsubishi’s driverless cars to / 41

Hardware & Software


month. The two companies demonstrated an autonomous Audi kitted out with ADAS at CES 2017, and have announced that they will bring a Level 4 self-driving system to market in 2019. Late last year, Mobileye demonstrated an autonomous

Mobileye is a long-standing Israeli tech firm that

Audi that could change lanes, break automatically

develops advanced driver assistance systems

and avoid other road users. The latest automaker

(ADAS). The company is viewed by fellow software

to look to Mobileye is luxury EV manufacturer

developers as tough competition, and it’s not

Lucid Motors. Lucid will receive LiDAR, radar and

hard to see why. Mobileye is the largest supplier

cameras from the tech company, as well as Road

of camera-based ADAS and has been working

Experience Management, learning algorithms and

with BMW and Intel since the summer of 2016 to

localisation services. Despite the lack of a launch

bring out consumer-ready autonomous vehicles by

date, Lucid is already accepting pre-orders for its

2021. Mobileye also teamed up with Tesla Motors

driverless model. Hopefully the deal will be more

to provide EyeQ3 chips to power Tesla’s infamous

successful than the one with Tesla – but even if it

autopilot. However, the software supplier called

isn’t, it doesn’t sound as if Mobileye will be short of

off the partnership last year due to concerns


that Tesla was using Mobileye technology for the wrong applications – which could have potentially contributed to the recent death of a test driver. Without skipping a beat, the company then made links with U.K. automaker Delphi in the following

42 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


itself. It can detect if the driver is texting or is under the influence of alcohol. Prior to going public in 2015, Nauto had already tested autonomous vehicles in 23 countries across the globe. Now, the company is working with taxi, limo and bus

Nauto based in Palo Alto was founded in 2015 and

fleets in San Francisco to collect important data.

supplies an AI-powered connected camera network

The information will be used to understand driver

and smart cloud system. The company aims to

behaviour and improve safety functions, which is

bring autonomous capabilities to the masses

one of Nauto’s key priorities. The business is one

by adding the necessary software to standard

of a number of startups aiming to roll out retrofit

hardware, meaning that consumers don’t have to

kits, and is on the look-out for 2017 partners. Their

buy new models. Nauto has received investment

dual-facing camera is currently priced at $400, plus

from both BMW and Toyota, closing a $12 million

a subscription fee. Nauto’s future plans involve

Series A funding round in April 2016. Just two

moving away from their retrofit kit, eventually

months later, total funding had reached almost

integrating their software into new vehicles.

$15 million. Nauto claims to be able to make any car a self-driving one using Artificial Intelligence teamed with leading vehicle hardware. Services include a secure API, accessible cloud-based system, Vision Enhanced Risk Assessment and a dual facing camera called Nauto II. The camera analyses driver behaviour and the surrounding environment, as well as monitoring the vehicle / 43

Hardware & Software


gives the impression that it is totally focused on electric cars, they have recently received a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California. They’ve invested heavily in building new factories and R&D facilities for autonomous technology,

NextEv is a Chinese electric vehicle startup founded in 2014. Since its launch, NextEv has competed in Formula E racing with its own team. Last year, the company revealed what was claimed to be the fastest electric car in the world at a launch event in London. In 2016, the company opened a brand new office in Silicon Valley. Tasked with leading the U.S. team is ex-Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, who voiced her belief that NextEv will change transportation as we know it. Warrior isn’t the only big name to join the startup – Jamie Carlson, who is Senior Director of Advanced Technologies, previously worked on driverless projects for both Tesla and Apple. Although no vehicles were showcased at the opening of the U.S. office, it was stated that NextEv’s luxury electric supercar was under development and would be tested on U.K. roads. Whilst the Chinese firm

44 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

as well as entering a manufacturing agreement with Chinese automaker JAC Motors. One of NextEv’s main obstacles seems to be their lack of presence. Going into 2017, NextEv has partnered with popular software suppliers Mobileye, which will undoubtedly help to improve their credibility. The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a view to develop Level 4 autonomy by 2019 for NextEv models. The company has kept quiet about the origin of its funding, however the agreement with stateowned JAC Motors and a generally aggressive policy towards autonomous development points to official backing.

nuTonomy nuTonomy was set up in 2013 by two researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has received investment from companies including Samsung Ventures. The

test autonomous cars (with hardware by Renault)

startup works with major manufacturers and

in Boston. The city is notorious for its difficult

disruptive startups to ‘reinvent personal mobility’

driving, from cramped, congested streets to harsh

and tackle what they believe to be the biggest

winter conditions. However, for an autonomous

challenge in self-drive technology – urban driving.

car gathering data about the world around it,

NuTonomy began testing their software at the

Boston provides a valuable research environment.

beginning of 2016 using a Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

As well as this, nuTonomy will be much closer

Just nipping Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet in the bud,

to MIT, which is where they originally began

nuTonomy received funding from the Singaporean

their research. According to COO Doug Parker,

government to work on self-driving taxi services

nuTonomy technology relies on ‘formal logic’ to

in Singapore, leading to a commercial business in

guide semi-autonomous and autonomous cars. It

2018. The venture will also expand to include 10

also uses laser sensors, radar and high definition

other global cities by 2020. NuTonomy is currently

cameras, alongside machine learning algorithms

working with Southeast Asia’s answer to Uber,

developed at MIT. The company plans to have fully

Grab. Later that year in November, they began to

driverless vehicles on the market by 2019. / 45

Hardware & Software


driving behaviours the autonomous vehicle will more effectively integrate with other drivers and be better prepared for anomalies. As well as Audi, the company has worked with Tesla Motors since development began on the Model S. The Model S,

NVIDIA is an American technology company based

Model X and hotly anticipated Model 3 are all kitted

in California. They created the GPU and have

out with NVIDIA supercomputers, and use NVIDIA

been working with German automaker Audi for

tech to power the in-car info-entertainment

ten years. The software developers have created

systems in all three models. On top of this, they

NVIDIA Drive PX, which is an AI platform for

also topped tech giants Intel when George Hotz’s

self-driving cars to help them understand their

startup stopped using Intel processors in

surrounding environment. At CES 2017, NVIDIA

favour of NVIDIA’s technology. In short, the MIT-

revealed plans to release a fully autonomous,

spin off has enjoyed real success and is well set up

AI-powered car alongside Audi by 2020. Proving

to continue to do so.

just how serious they are about this, the company demonstrated two autonomous cars at the LAbased event on a variety of road surfaces. The first was a Lincoln MKZ fitted with sensors to enable self-driving, and the second was a completely driverless Audi Q7 installed with Drive PX 2, an updated version of their original AI platform. The car learnt to drive simply by observing other roadusers, not by applying theoretical rules. This might sound sketchy at first, but by mirroring human

46 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


networks in the cloud. Since 2014, the team have been trialling a sensor and camera-equipped Nissan nicknamed ‘RobotCar’. Selenium, the brain behind Oxbotica’s driverless capabilities, uses information gathered by RobotCar plus new

Oxbotica is a UK-based self-driving technology

software to bring autonomy to other models,

company that began at Oxford University. It was

including a Renault TWIZY. At the start of 2016,

founded by Oxford professors in 2014 and is now

Oxbotica teamed up with insurance company

looking to expand its team by hiring software

XL Catlin to explore autonomous robotics and

engineers. The company isn’t just developing

the effect it will have on risk management. At

driverless cars – it’s also working on autonomous

the moment, the company is testing Selenium-

robots and machinery. Currently, they are serving

enabled vehicles in Milton Keynes and London.

forklifts and mining trucks – NASA have even

Oxbotica has revealed that it is working with two

used the university team’s tech in the Mars Rover

automakers, but who they are and what they are

robot. Oxbotica has created Selenium, a robotic

creating together remains a mystery.

brain which can control self-driving cars. It works on two levels – localisation and perception. Oxbotica engineers have built sensors, lasers and sensors, as well as the software to connect them. The system collects data and uses it to improve the car’s performance on the road. Professor Paul Newman has discussed using the data to enrich other cars, robots and machinery via shared neural / 47

Hardware & Software


entertainment system which includes natural language processing and cellular connectivity. Parent company BlackBerry also showed off in-car IoT applications. QNX’s platform has been used by other companies including Intel, but it’s clear that

QNX Software Systems delivers a commercial real-

the services are primarily targeted at automotive

time operating system used in mobiles and cars.

manufacturers. In November 2016, the Ministry

The software company was acquired by BlackBerry

of Transportation of Ontario certified QNX to test

in 2010. In 2014, Ford replaced its Microsoft Auto

autonomous vehicles on public roads. The following

services with QNX. At CES 2016, QNX demonstrated

month, BlackBerry opened a new R&D centre for

the ADAS, wireless V2X communication and OS

autonomous technology. With two decades of

technology necessary for the development of

experience in supplying software platforms to the

autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles. The

automotive sector, QNX’s expansion into ADAS

developers also stated that its platform would

is part of a natural progression in their business

reduce costs and time-to-market for automakers,

strategy. Before CES 2017, the company announced

and revealed two new tech concepts based on a

a new 64-bit automotive Operating System. At

Toyota Highlander and a Jeep Wrangler. The Toyota

the event, QNX showcased the tech inside a sleek

model was demonstrated using a highway scenario

Jaguar concept car.

in which the car recognised, tracked and followed other vehicles on the road. The ADAS used in both cars is powered by an automotive platform from NVIDIA. QNX have also created their own info-

48 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


data for future developments. As well as 5GAA, Qualcomm has joined a collaborative consortium with members ranging from Toyota to GM. In November 2016, the tech suppliers acquired automotive IoT company NXP in a move to crack

Qualcomm is an American semiconductor and

the transportation market. NXP has already

telecommunications company based in California.

debuted autonomous technology and is the largest

The tech firm has over 30 years of experience

supplier of automotive semiconductors – now,

in providing chips and processors, as well as

all of that belongs to Qualcomm. Despite obvious

software services. When it comes to autonomous

steps into the driverless arena, Qualcomm used

vehicles, their key research areas include cellular

CES 2017 to debut a new, powerful processor called

V2X (C-V2X), advanced mapping, Deep Neural

Snapdragon 835 for smartphones, VR and AR

Networks and 5G. According to the company, GPS

devices. If Snapdragon processors will be applied

is too expensive for widespread use and mapping

to the company’s automotive developments, then

provides a better alternative. Qualcomm uses

they aren’t letting on yet.

smartphone-level quality sensors in conjunction with cameras to create real-time localisation. The company’s interest in harnessing 5G for automotive applications led them to form the 5G Automotive Association, which now boasts high profile members like Audi, BMW and Ford. By bringing together all of these cutting-edge technologies, Qualcomm is collecting invaluable / 49

Hardware & Software


in factories and warehouses, turning them into VGVs. Unlike most car manufacturers, Seegrid doesn’t work with lasers or HD cameras. Instead, they use five pairs of low-grade cameras to create

Seegrid was formed in 2003 and creates VGVs

a 360 degree view of the vehicle’s surroundings.

(Vision Guided Vehicles) using patented 3D

This data is then plotted on a 3D grid – hence

evidence grid technology. One of the company’s

the company’s name. Whilst it may not be as

founders is Hans Moravec, faculty member at the

high-tech as lasers, Moravec maintains that this

Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

technique will be the most cost effective, and

Aligning with Moravec’s interest in robotics and

when teamed with powerful algorithms, more

AI, the original aim of the business was to create

capable. Seegrid’s VGVs have reportedly stacked

a fully autonomous robot. In a thesis written

up around 500,000 miles, and the company plans

at Stanford University in the 1970s, Moravec

to have an advanced self-driving prototype ready

discussed the development of an autonomous

this year.

vehicle. Seegrid was ultimately set up to bring these pioneering ideas to market once computing power had caught up with them. The company has since worked with major automakers like GM, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Toyota… The list doesn’t end there. As of March 2016, Seegrid began offering driverless technology for forklifts

50 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

Uber Uber was founded in 2009 has had unprecedented

Ford Fusions. The models were kitted out with

success across the world, becoming synonymous

20 cameras, seven lasers, LiDAR, radar and GPS.

with taxi services. At first, Uber concentrated

In October 2016, Uber began testing autonomous

on ride sharing and car hailing, connecting

cars in San Francisco. Last month, the company

customers in need of a ride with Uber drivers via

sent 16 licensed, autonomous Volvo SUVs on

a smartphone app. By the summer of 2016, Uber’s

excursions around the city. Uber may stand out as

services were available in 545 cities worldwide.

a huge success story, but it hasn’t all been plain

In the last few years, Uber has pursued an

sailing for the transportation giant. The California

aggressive business strategy. The company now

Department of Motor Vehicles later retracted the

offers services ranging from on-demand meal

licenses for the SUVs after they demonstrated

provision (Uber Eats) to parcel delivery (Uber

bad driving practises like running red lights and

Offers). Naturally, the business has taken a keen

ignoring cycle lanes. Uber is now at loggerheads

interest in autonomous cars. In 2015, Uber and

with the organisation and has refused to comply.

Carnegie Mellon University teamed up to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Centre. Based in Pittsburgh the aim of the facility was to develop a fleet of self-driving cars. By September, Uber had released their own fleet of 14 self-driving / 51

Hardware & Software


The third term of the nanodegree culminates in the opportunity to test out their new skills and programme an autonomous car. The site’s president, Sebastian Thrun, previously launched Google’s self-driving car programme. In light

Udacity is an online learning environment set up

of Boston Global Consulting estimates that

in 2014 which offers a range of ‘nanodegrees’ and

autonomous driving will create 100,000 jobs by

free courses. Options include ‘VR Developer’ , ‘AI’ ,

2025, Thrun is confident that graduates won’t

‘Android Basics’ and ‘Self-Driving Car Engineer’.

exactly struggle to find work. The courses offered

First of all, a nanodegree is a streamlined

by Udacity aim to capitalise on the demand for

educational course that qualifies graduates for

changing, as well as highlighting the key role that

entry-level jobs. It might sound a little odd, but

self-driving vehicles will play in the job markets of

Udacity has proved its credibility by establishing

today and tomorrow. Aside from offering MOOCs

links with respected companies including NVIDIA,

(Massive Open Online Courses), Udacity is also

Mercedes Benz and BMW. The programme involves

calling for developers to help them build their own

three terms of 12 weeks, costing an overall sum

open-source autonomous car.

of $2,400. Udacity even offers scholarships for successful applicants, and claims that ‘almost anyone’ can become a Self-Driving Car Engineer. Candidates need to be well-versed in coding, with a good knowledge of algebra and statistics – so perhaps ‘almost anyone’ is an overstatement.

52 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020


through three phases – initial driver control, semiautonomous control and finally the re-instalment of the driver as the key actor. The company also revealed new developments including eCruise4U, which enables autonomous driving for electric

Valeo is a French multinational auto supplier

vehicles, a new emergency breaking system and

with a wealth of experience in the automotive

XtraVue, a set of connected cameras which shows

industry. To keep up with emerging trends, Valeo

the driver what is happening outside of their field

have created a semi-autonomous system called

of vision. The company believes that EVs and

Cruise4U. It tested using VW models, and provides

autonomous technology are two fundamental

automated acceleration and breaking, automated

aspects of future mobility.

lane centering and lane change. The company has been working on connected vehicles across 19 research centres and 35 development centres worldwide. At the 2016 Paris Motor Show, Valeo presented Cruise4U as a real-world solution for common road situations, including congested traffic. In September 2016, a Valeo Cruise4U car successfully logged 475 miles of autonomous journeys on the Paris beltway. At CES 2017, Valeo showcased the Valeo eCruise4U, which is the first electric car that can drive autonomously in urban areas. At the moment, the car transitions / 53

Hardware & Software


they already have an R&D facility dedicated to autonomous technologies which is conveniently based in California. Although the company started out as a designer and manufacturer of EVs, it views

Wheego Technologies was founded in 2008 and originally operated under the name of Wheego Electric Cars. Their first electric car was released just one year later. As an EV automaker, they sold hundreds of electric cars to U.S. dealerships. In 2014, the company shifted its focus to selfdriving, and later changed its name to Wheego Technologies to reflect this expanding business strategy. Key research areas include AI, machine learning and a range of IoT connectivity. Their ultimate goal is to offer a suite of autonomous driving features for mass consumer use. In November 2016, Wheego was awarded an AVT from the California Department for Motor Vehicles, allowing them to experiment with driverless tech on Californian roads. Despite having been viewed as a new-comer to the self-driving scene,

54 / Autonomous Vehicle 50...The race to 2020

electric cars as hugely important to driverless technology and will develop both in tandem. Wheego is currently selling their advanced tech to clients in China, which presents a more favourable market for investing in external software. The company uses sensors and deep learning algorithms to power its autonomous vehicles, but is yet to showcase a functioning prototype. Either way, Wheego isn’t short of ambition and is looking to provide autonomous, electric transport to a global market.


joined the relatively exclusive list of companies to be awarded an Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permit to test cars in California. Unlike other companies, they are building their cars from scratch and have purposefully skipped the creation

Zoox, founded in 2014 is robotics company that

of Level 3 systems, stating that they are totally

delivers driverless mobility as a service. Co-

focused on a fully driverless model. Matching

founded by ex-Google engineer Jesse Levinson,

competitors, Zoox expects to have brought Level

they are definitely one to watch. The startup has

4 self-driving taxis to consumers by 2020. If the

already received almost $300 million in equity

startup can successfully create both the software

funding, and closed a $50 million Series A funding

and hardware necessary for an autonomous fleet,

round in October 2016. As of November, Zoox was

they will be the only company to date not to rely on

valued at $1.5 billion, which is nothing short of

external partners.

impressive after just two years in business. The unicorn company is now in the process of creating a fully autonomous fleet for a wide consumer base, which will work in a similar way to Uber using on-demand ride hailing via an app. Zoox’s first model is code-named L4, and has no windshield, break pedals or steering wheel. The company (and whatever it is they’re actually working on) has largely existed in stealth mode, quietly developing fully autonomous capabilities. In March 2016, Zoox / 55

When will the disruption occur? Like anything disruptive in this century the killer element of the disruption is not the hype curve (ie pre delivery) but the adoption curve. I’m sorry if I cause offence to the legion of autonomous car proponents but this is going to be a shallow adoption curve. Here’s why.

Firstly, there are no second hand autonomous

money to buy such vehicles and will probably

vehicles on the road yet which means it will

expect share vehicles - good for Uber but that

probably be another 3-5 years before that

means less vehicles sold overall.

happens and with the average new price of a car at £28,973 it’s the second largest family

The much steeper adoption curve will come

purchase after a home.

in the commercial vehicles sector where the economic benefits are faster and more tangible

Secondly there is the trust element, it’s going

- with the availability of retro fit kits for trucks

to take time for consumers to trust self drive

through startup Otto (recently bought by Uber,

vehicles and it’s only going to take a couple of

of course, for $700m) will truly disrupt.

instances of Daily Mail hysteria for the trust adoption curve to flatten. At some points there

John Straw founder of D/SRUPTION is a Senior

is going to be a headline like “New autonomous

Advisor to Mckinsey & Company and IBM

car kills family of 5 on the way to Disneyland” -

Watson IoT, and a self confessed petrol head.

not conducive to to mass market trust.

Views expressed are his own.

The new millennials, being immersed in technology, are much more likely to be more trusting - but with the economics of AI throwing more people out of work few will have the

Disruption Auto Report 2017 2  
Disruption Auto Report 2017 2