Who Will Win The Race To Autonomy?

can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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Will Silicon Valley lead the charge to driverless cars? Or will automobile manufacturers hold the edge when it comes to making self-driving vehicles a reality? You might be surprised by what respondents had to say.

  • In a survey about self-driving cars, car companies and tech giants were pitted against each other.
  • Among Silicon Valley firms, Apple and Google are seen as having the edge in autonomous cars.
  • When it came to automobile manufacturers, Toyota was the clear favorite in terms of being first to market self-drive vehicles.

The race to bring driverless vehicles to production could be worth billions of dollars to the winning car company or tech firm. But who really holds the edge when it comes to making self-drive cars and trucks a reality? According to a recent survey conducted by Cox Automotive (parent company of Ride), many people believe the future of autonomy is a closely fought match.

To start, respondents were asked which automobile manufacturer they think will be first to bring a self-driving vehicle to serial production. The winner was Toyota at 24 percent, despite the fact that other auto manufacturers have a clear lead in self-drive technology. Cadillac, Tesla, Volvo, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz all have various self-drive aids available now, whereas Toyota does not.

Steering Wheel Green Light Cadillac Super CruiseThe upper portion of the steering wheel on a Cadillac equipped with Super Cruise will glow green when the self-drive system is in operation. Photo: Cadillac

It’s worth noting that, at present, not a single car or truck offers anything close to all-the-time autonomy. This is referred to as Level 5 self-driving, which means the vehicle operates in all conditions without any human intervention. A system like AutoPilot in Tesla vehicles, or Super Cruise in select Cadillac models, registers at Level 2 autonomy. This means a driver must pay attention to the road. Sensors and/or cameras in the vehicle monitor a driver’s eyes, or ensure their hands are kept on the steering wheel. Following Toyota, Ford was the second most popular choice (14 percent), followed by a tie between Honda (13 percent) and Tesla (13 percent).

Apple held the lead with survey respondents, though Waymo has a much longer track record when it comes to self-drive research. (Photo: Waymo)

Next, respondents were asked which tech company they thought would be the first to introduce driverless cars. Much like Toyota, it was Apple that took a surprise win with 32 percent of those surveyed. This was closely followed by Waymo, the driverless research and development division of Google, which has been building self-drive prototypes and test vehicles for roughly a decade. In comparison, despite its great name recognition, Apple has been nearly silent in the arena of self-driving research. Rounding out the top five tech firms were Samsung (17 percent), Microsoft (17 percent), followed by Uber (13 percent).

A total of 34 percent of those surveyed believe someone other than car companies, tech giants, or electronic firms will be first to deliver a self-drive car. (Photo: Ford)

Last but not least, the most important question hinged upon whether car companies or Silicon Valley will get to a self-drive future first. It was closer than you might imagine, with 34 percent of respondents giving the nod to car companies. Tech firms trailed in second place at 20-percent, with automotive suppliers and electronic firms barely scratching their way into single digits.

However, a total of 34 percent of those surveyed answered “OTHER” when asked which type of company will cross the autonomous drive finish line in first place. This leaves the door wide open to a future where humans sit back and let their vehicles do all the work.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Compared to other companies, Toyota and Apple have sparse records when it comes to self-driving research and development. But a strong name builds trust in a brand, and these two companies are seen as tech innovators and being on the leading edge of self-drive vehicles.


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can be reached at nkurczewski@yahoo.com
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