There’s one thing that’s dominating the automotive industry more than anything at the moment, and that’s driverless cars. While electric and hybrid technology is rightfully getting a lot of attention, the race to produce the world’s first fully autonomous motor car is well and truly on. A whole lot of technology is needed to pull this off, so it’s no surprise that some of the biggest tech giants on the planet are getting involved. Here we take a look at four of the companies that are all set to join the industry.
A company that’s become an integral part of everyday life for most people, Google are currently investing $30 million per year in driverless technology. The tech behemoth has been working on self-driving cars for several years, and at the end of 2016 separated its autonomous vehicle project into a new company.
The creation of Waymo suggests that Alphabet, Google’s parent company, believes that its driverless technology is ready for commercialisation. With the intention of making a car that’s 100% autonomous, Google has millions of driverless miles under its belt and looks set to be a major player.
In June of this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed that the company is “focusing on autonomous systems.” This came after pictures emerged of a white Lexus RX450h SUV, which it was claimed Apple had kitted out with an array of sensors before taking it for a cruise along the streets of Silicon Valley.
Whether those photos were legitimate or not, Cook’s affirmation that his team’s on the case is hugely exciting for the car industry. A company renowned for its innovation, style and top drawer products, we’re sure that they’re more than welcome to borrow another Lexus or two to help with the cause.
American giant Intel recently bought tech company Mobileye for over $15 billion, in a huge deal for the driverless market. The Israeli company specialises in autonomous tech, making for a fearsome partnership with the world’s largest computer chipmaker.
A recent study from Intel and research firm Strategy Analytics claimed the driverless car market will be behind $7 trillion of economic activity by 2050, so Mobileye’s expertise could pay massive dividends. The company’s prowess comes in its use of graphics processing units (GPUs), which offer much more power than central processing units (CPUs). By joining forces with Intel, the combination promises to be an influential one.
Like the companies above, Facebook’s an integral part of Silicon Valley – so naturally it wants to play an integral part of the future of driving. Although there’s not much by way of concrete proof that Mark Zuckerberg’s company is developing driverless technology, the very foundations of the social media giant are linked to how it will work.
Facebook wouldn’t be able to function without artificial intelligence. Their computer whizzes create artificial neural networks, which allow the site to think and perform as the human brain would. This allows the site to operate through deep learning, which is what autonomous cars must rely on to respond to the unlimited situations that arise on the road. With Facebook’s software engineers so proficient in this, don’t be surprised to see their influence extend to the automotive industry.
With so much money and resources being poured into the industry by these companies, is it really out of the question that they could even start to produce their own cars? Indeed, Apple originally set out to build its own car under the codename Project Titan, before shelving these plans to focus on developing the technology for autonomous driving.
If Google cracks the code of automotive driving it would surely want an even bigger piece of the pie for itself. And you can just imagine a Facebook car where your news feed rolls across the top of your windscreen as you sit back and check out your friends’ latest posts, or a set of Intel wheels where a nice big interactive screen pops down out of the roof of your ride.