5 New Self-Drive Car Companies You Need to Know About
Self-drive cars are the future of transportation. No steering wheel, no pedals, no operator. But what are the key players in this space? Are they big supermajors or do new startups have an advantage? And what impact will self-drive cars have on society? Here is a look at the biggest players and the startups in the self-driving car industry.
1. The biggest players in self-drive cars today
The biggest players in self-drive cars today are Alphabet Inc. (GOOG) through Waymo, Tesla Inc. (TSLA), Uber Technologies Inc. (UBER), General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Company (F), Baidu Inc.(BIDU), and Cruise Automation Inc. (STK).
“We want to make the auto industry the most innovative area of technology.”
Waymo is an international self-drive vehicle company founded in 2009. An important part of its business model is a formula called “safety driver,” which means that the vehicles it develops are designed to operate without a human operator present.
Waymo co-founder and former CEO Anthony Levandowski is serving a 30-month federal prison sentence in Texas after pleading guilty to charges relating to Alphabet’s workplace theft scandal.
Waymo has been snapping up high technology companies ever since Levandowski’s criminal case. It has also expanded from its original footprint of autonomous vehicle development in California, Nevada, and Arizona into other states, including Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and Kansas.
Other notable brands that Waymo currently works with include Jio (a telecom company), Aliyun Robot & Machine (a robot arm manufacturer), Vanguard Technology Corporation (a cloud-based manufacturing firm), and Ubtech (a commercial drone company).
Waymo has been getting its share of competition. Other players in the self-drive car field have been on a roll as well, spurred on significantly by the coronavirus pandemic. In September, BAIC, Inc. (BAIF), the announced the start of production on its Hummingbird self-drive vehicle.
Self-drive cars do not have steering wheels or pedals. Instead, they use onboard computer vision, radar, and laser sensors to navigate themselves around a variety of conditions. They have no range anxiety, because they can easily switch to solar power if the battery runs out. If intersections are hazardous to the vehicles’ sensors, the pilot can take defensive measures such as braking or taking evasive maneuvers.
Self-drive cars offer major economic and societal benefits.
2. Who are the biggest startups in the self-drive car industry?
The biggest players in the self-drive car industry are Tesla, Uber, Lyft, Apple, Google, and Baidu. Tesla has made the most noise in the self-drive car industry, but it hasn’t released much information about its plans.(Google will be more forthcoming, but also less expensive.) In terms of revenue, Tesla’s newest model, the Model 3, accounted for nearly 30% of the self-driving car market’s revenue growth in 2016. It wasn’t the only major player in the market, either, but as of this writing it is the market’s largest player. Uber and Lyft have been pushing aggressively for self-drive cars to become legal on US roads and to alleviate taxi-deed issues. Apple has a tremendous amount of resources to help self-drive car technology reach market saturation and consumers. Google had been developing and testing self-drive technology in California for years but recently opened up almost all of its operations to the self-drive car industry opening up the market to outside investors. And the big bad Baidu. What does this mean for the self-drive car market? Will the requirements for these companies to lead in the market accelerate?
The biggest companies, in some sense, have two key advantages over their startups competitors.
They’ve got more capital to invest It’s easier to raise money on a big startup since those funds can come from a bank or even the equity investors in a private-equity firm. Once you’ve raised money and are ready to start, you’re less capital constrained because your marketing budget and ability to compete with the big players allows you to build out a self-driving car or two more quickly. Companies like Tesla are less capital constrained because they already have a high level of brand recognition with the public, and they can make combinations of new and used vehicles that give consumers the choice to get in their next car after a quick ride in the Tesla.
3. Who are the biggest supermajors?
The biggest supermajors are: Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell.
Startups are focusing on providing the most affordable rides. Tesla is just the most recent entrant. If Tesla can’t take market share, there is competition in the self-driving car space.
There are also smaller players here. New York startup TASER is already in play. Tesla’s eco-friendly mission might be a threat to Toyota’s long-term control of the self-driving car equation.
Lastly, there are public and private university organizations, like Carnegie Mellon, that are developing the software and hardware needed to run an autonomous vehicle program.
Which one of these companies will win the race?
Participating in the race may be best if you are comfortable with risk. BP ran a scary self-driving car experiment in 2009 and had to pay $21 million to avoid prosecution. Google invested $80 million in the company to oversee self-driving car development. And GM just spent $600 million on Cruise, which it will now open to limited public operation.
This is the most important tech race of our lifetimes, so you have to be ready to ramp up your self-driving car tech. The software is only going to get better.
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Things are about to get interesting. Dron, a student-run technical magazine here at the University of Maryland, is proud to bring you the Cutomers Guide to Tesla. One of the most unique supplements you will see from us is our Tesla Best Practices Video.
OK, these are cool, but what will we do with this data? Well, we have big goals and big ideas, and we will follow these directly to the meat of the article and the videos. Droning Adafruit is bringing together some of the top minds in the self-driving car space. We are the No.
4. What are the opportunities for small businesses?
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Uber and Didi have tried to maintain a low profile in the world of self-driving cars. Do you see them becoming big players in the space? Would you be interested in seeing a Didi-sponsored event in the near future?
Uber is a rideshare company based in the U.S. Didi is a ridesharing company based in China. They were founded in 2010 and the company currently has 87 properties in 28 Chinese cities. Uber has invested millions of dollars in Didi, possibly wanting to maintain their advantage over larger competitors like Didi, and possibly wanting to work to enhance their driver safety technology platform. Uber also recently invested millions in Lyft, which may give them a stronger ability to enter the Chinese market.
Uber and Didi have a self-driving car project in China. We don’t have a ton of information on this program, but expected developments are expected very soon.
In August 2014, Uber made a move to further their dog-walking app Enhance. Didi and Uber are currently creating a partnership for dog walking in China that is expected to provide data for Didi’s self-driving car venture in the future.
Uber does have a self-driving vehicle testing infrastructure in Arizona. Unlike Uber, Didi doesn’t have a physical data center in China. Instead, didi sends vehicles and data to Uber’s test track in Arizona.
5. What impact will self-driving cars have on society?
Self-driving cars are coming, whether you like it or not. It’s estimated that by the year 2040, 75% of the cars on the road will be driverless. This will have a huge impact on our society, including the way we work, the way we eat, the way we commute, and the way we connect with each other.Who Are the Players in the Self-Drive Car Startup Sector?
Uber has changed the way we think about travel.
Known for its cheeky marketing, Uber’s mission is empowering people to become mobile and get where they’re going as quickly and efficiently as possible — regardless of whether they’re traveling solo or with friends and family. In its short history, that mission has been met with an incredible amount of success. In 2012 alone, Uber’s rideshare business delivered over $40 billion in revenue, allowing the company to reach global success.
Founded in 2009, Waymo has grown to be one of the major players in the self-driving car industry. Waymo was founded in 2006 by Anthony Mu and John Giannandrea of NHTSA (now NHTSA’s parent company), and has grown to become the self-driving car technology marketplace, one of the most prominent players in the space. Waymo has offices in Burbank, California and Phoenix, Arizona.
Waymo completed its Series M, a $3.3 billion private investment in April 2015. The round included participation from Ford, BASF, Lyft, Uber, and Otto. Additionally, Waymo has a data sharing agreement with Uber that will allow the two companies to combine their self-driving vehicle data provided by Waymo’s proprietary lidar data with Uber’s vehicle data.
Once a $75 million Series C round was completed in February 2016, Uber took Uber TLD to the next level by launching Uber Logistics, a self-driving vehicle platform. The self-driving vehicle platform is similar to Uber’s other business, and offers fleet services, an in-app delivery service, and vehicle data sharing.
Tesla is the most valuable car manufacturer in the world today. They were founded in 2003 and began developing the Model S electric car in 2007.