Car Makers Accelerate the Development of Self-Driving Cars
On August 3, 2015, Nokia’s digital mapping and cloud location service provider HERE was sold to a consortium of German car makers Audi, BMW, and Daimler for €2.8 billion. HERE is one of the top competitors to Google Maps, with special features for the car industry. Of course, better maps are useful to all drivers, but it seems likely that the three car makers want to use HERE for self-driving cars.
Writing on Fusion, Daniela Hernandez says that the acquisition is a clear signal that the car makers plan to develop self-driving cars. “And it’s a big, and very telling, step: individual car companies are willing to join forces with competitors to have a better shot at winning the robocar race.”
Because when it comes to driverless cars, the best manufacturers will be those with the best, most up-to-date maps.
At this moment Google is the clear leader in mapping, location and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology for self-driving cars. As recently revealed by The Guardian, the Internet giant created its own car company Google Auto LLC, which could one day sell self-driving cars directly to the public. However, Google would prefer to focus on the core self-driving technologies and establish collaborations with car makers.
Self-Driving Cars Anywhere, Anytime
Now it appears that the car industry prefers not to depend on Google. “High-precision digital maps are a crucial component of the mobility of the future. With the joint acquisition of HERE, we want to secure the independence of this central service for all vehicle manufacturers, suppliers and customers in other industries,” said Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG.
Electric car maker Tesla Motors intends to build self-driving cars by 2020. Controversial but hugely successful social car sharing company Uber stated that it wants to purchase Tesla’s self-driving electric cars and build a fleet of autonomous cars for its operations – Uber without drivers. However, recent rumors seem to indicate that Tesla, instead of selling a fleet of autonomous cars to Uber, might want to use the cars for its own social car sharing venture.
In February, Uber announced a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to make joint advances in research and development for maps, vehicle safety, and autonomous driving. The Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, near the CMU campus, will focus on the development of key long-term technologies.
With fleets of self-driving cars on-demand, Uber (or Tesla, or other car makers), will disrupt much more than the taxi business. Besides not needing traditional taxi services, most people won’t need owning a car. Just book a ride with a phone app, and a self-driving car will come pick you up in a few minutes. A faster and cheaper transportation solution, and better for the planet too.
Images from Nokia and smoothgroover22/Flickr.