UAE predicts 90% driverless cars, 20% solar power by 2035
New State of Future report also forecasts hypersonic planes to cruise at 6,100km per hour by 2030
The Autonomous Car Revolution’s Insane Stakes
The Waymo-Uber legal battle reveals the big league finances at play in the sector. New court documents allege that Anthony Levandowski, formerly a senior engineer at Waymo, was working with several of the firm's competitors while he was still in its employment, before taking trade secrets to Otto, then Uber. Lior Ron, co-founder of Otto, is now also being targeted by Waymo. But perhaps the most incredible news nugget from the files is that Levandowskiwas paid a cool $120 million in bonuses while working at Waymo—a company that is yet to produce a cent of revenue.
Ford motors places a $1 billion bet that a young startup will win the race to launch fully autonomous cars on the road.
Argo stands out from the hundreds of companies pursuing self-driving technology due to its unique deal with Ford that has invested big in this little-known startup that is now primed to compete with Google’s Waymo, Uber, GM’s Cruise Automation, Tesla, and Aurora — a short list of heavyweights all working on a so-called “full stack solution” of self-driving cars.
Argo is tasked with developing the entire “virtual driver system,” which means all of the sensors like cameras, radar, light detection, and ranging radar known as LIDAR, as well as the software and compute platform. Ford has also charged Argo with how to create high-definition maps, keep them “fresh,” and sustain that over time, Ford’s CTO and vice president of research and advanced engineering Ken Washington said during a presentation at The Information’s autonomous vehicle summit in June.
Argo is now battling with the competition to recruit roboticists and machine learning experts. It’s a fight that is pushing salaries, including bonuses and equity offerings, for self-driving car engineers well beyond $250,000 a year.
Autonomous vehicles can add a new member to their ranks—the self-driving wheelchair. This summer, two robotic wheelchairs made headlines: one at a Singaporean hospital and another at a Japanese airport.
The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, or SMART, developed the former, first deployed in Singapore’s Changi General Hospital in September 2016, where it successfully navigated the hospital’s hallways. It is the latest in a string of autonomous vehicles made by SMART, including a golf cart, electric taxi and, most recently, a scooter that zipped more than 100 MIT visitors around on tours in 2016.
The SMART self-driving wheelchair has been in development for about a year and a half, since January 2016, says Daniela Rus, director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and a principal investigator in the SMART Future Urban Mobility research group. Today, SMART has two wheelchairs in Singapore and two wheelchairs at MIT being tested in a variety of settings, says Rus.
There are 5 levels of SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) automation which represents the extent of human involvement in driving a vehicle.
Ford hopes for SAE level 4 autonomy by 2021. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the vehicle will “only be self-driving in the portion of major cities where the company can create and regularly update extremely detailed 3-D street maps.” Like with Tesla, this is hardly the kind of autonomy we imagined of the future.
Even with the recent advancements in machine vision, sensors, and mapping technologies, we’re only really at level 2 automation and slowly moving towards level 3. Just this summer, Audi announced the 2019 A8 — advertised as the first company to sell level 3 self driving car — with a hefty $100,000+ price tag. It can park on its own, and at speeds less than 37 mph, be autonomous enough to fulfill the level 3 criteria.
Rupert Stadler, CEO of Audi, said they will have fully autonomous cars deployed by 2025..
Mark Fields, former CEO of Ford, indicated 2021.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, said next year
When asked about the threat of autonomous driving and electric vehicles to the future of the trucking industry, Buffett didn’t seem too worried. He acknowledges that the shift from diesel to electric trucks and autonomous trucks would have a big effect, but doesn’t see this as a major imminent risk. Indeed, he doubts driverless vehicles will see 10% penetration by 2030.
The CEO of Nvidia, Jensen Huang, today boldly announced fully autonomous vehicles will be on the road in “no more than four years.” This may shock some, but there’s an ever-expanding list of companies in agreement. At this point, anyone who doesn’t see driverless cars as imminent is in denial.