As a result, more than 250 companies including car manufacturing, tech companies, and service providers are researching autonomous vehicles.
Besides that, there are multiple startups also doing research on self-driving technology.
With every company doing intense research and trying to gain the top position in self-driving technology, it’s so difficult to give the title of the top autonomous vehicle company.
A market research comprises the 30 autonomous vehicle companies that give brief information on the workings of those companies, but it would still be difficult to choose the best.
As the self-driving industry includes the companies of the automotive sector, technology companies, and service providers, the competition has gone beyond a single industry which makes it more competitive.
As a researcher, I wanted to figure out the top company of the autonomous driving industry.
And doing enough research, I came to a conclusion which gave me the top self-driving company, atleast in my opinion.
The company I am talking about is Google or more accurately Waymo, a Google subsidiary working on self-driving technology.
Google has been working on driverless-car technologies since 2009. And as I recall Google is the reason I got to know about self-driving cars.
Initially, the project was named as Google driverless car project. In December 2016, the new unit Waymo was formed as the subsidiary of Google’s parent firm, Alphabet.
Waymo’s self-driving technologies have gone through millions of miles of test drives already in US cities. Waymo cars had 1 billion simulated miles of test driving in 2016.
Throughout the journey to make the driverless car more capable, Google has done multiple collaborations. Below are some of the points which tell Google activities in self-driving research.
Google Self-Driving Research Activities
- On March 9, 2018, Google said that it plans to use Waymo’s self-driving trucks to deliver cargo to Google’s data centers. The transport tests will take place in Atlanta, where Google-owned Waymo recently expanded its test program of self-driving minivans. Google’s logistics team will work closely with Waymo’s team to give Waymo’s self-driving trucks a chance to operate in a real-world business scenario.
- On Mar 27, 2018, Jaguar Land Rover announced that the company is to supply up to 20,000 of its new electric I-Pace cars to Waymo to be converted into self-driving vehicles for its ride-hailing service. The tie-up, worth up to £1.3bn, is a further mark of Waymo’s ambition in the race with Uber and others to develop a driverless ride-hailing service – as well as a huge boost for Britain’s biggest car manufacturer as it takes its first steps into electric vehicles.
- On July 25, 2018, Google’s sister-company Waymo announced a trial in which its self-driving cars will ferry shoppers to and from a nearby Walmart store to pick up their groceries. For now, the pilot is being restricted to 400-plus members of its early rider program in Phoenix, Arizona.
- On May 31, 2018, Waymo announced its preparation to roll out more than 62,000 autonomous Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. The mobility services company is expanding its partnership with Fiat Chrysler in a deal that may include licensing Waymo’s technology and services so they can be incorporated into FCA vehicles.
- On October 10, 2018, Waymo announced that its autonomous vehicles have driven 10 million miles on public roads in the United States. Keep in mind that the company hit 8 million miles in July and had logged just 4 million miles in November 2017. That suggests, Waymo’s pace is quickening.
- On February 5, 2019, The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance will tie-up with Waymo to develop autonomous taxis and other services using self-driving vehicles, Nikkei reported. The partners are considering the joint development of unmanned taxis using Nissan vehicles and a system that handles reservations and payments.
- On March 6, 2019, Waymo said that it will begin selling the laser-mapping sensors used on its driverless vehicles to other companies—as long as the customers don’t compete with its core robotaxi business. The sensors, known as lidar will be used in the next generation of warehouse robots, security systems, and even autonomous tractors.
- On March 20, 2019, Waymo announced that it is opening another technical service center in the Phoenix area, an expansion that will allow the autonomous-vehicle technology startup to double its capacity in the area as it prepares to grow its commercial fleet. The new 85,000 square-foot center will be located in Mesa and is expected to open sometime in the second half of the year.
- On April 23, 2019, Waymo announced that it is building a factory to turn regular ol’ dumb cars into smart autonomous cars. Months after announcing that it was bringing its self-driving car operation to Michigan, the company said that it would be opening a repurposed factory in Detroit. In the new facility, Waymo will mass manufacture level 4 autonomous vehicles.
- On May 7, 2019, Lyft announced that the riders in the Phoenix area will soon be able to summon one of Waymo’s self-driving minivans for a ride. It’s the culmination of a partnership that was first announced almost two years ago.
- On May 10, 2019, Waymo announced that it has enrolled 1,000 customers for its ride-hailing service in suburban Phoenix. Chief Executive Officer John Krafcik touted the milestone while revealing plans to allow select Lyft Inc. users in Arizona to hail Waymo taxis.
- On May 29, 2019, Waymo announced the news in a tweet that it is bringing its autonomous trucks back to Arizona.
- On July 2, 2019, The California Public Utilities Commission granted Waymo a permit to participate in the state’s Autonomous Vehicle Passenger Service pilot. A statement from a Waymo spokesperson provides some hints as to how and where the company intends to use this permit.
- On July 26, 2019, Google said that its DeepMind system is using a type of algorithm called population-based training to mimic natural selection. The algorithm shortcuts the learning process by starting with the most efficient units and then basing future adaptations on those. The same thing is happening with self-driving development. DeepMind selects the aspects of the neural network that are most efficient and uses those when it needs to retrain or adjust its procedures as new data comes in.
In Mar 2020, Navigant Research also released its report where it put Waymo as the top company in its leaderboard chart.
Besides, Google owns multiple patents that secure the technologies used in a self-driving vehicle.
As per the patent data derived by GreyB Research, Google (Waymo) is the top technology company with the most patent count on autonomous driving solutions.
The patent research company has been tracking Google’s self-driving car patents in its side blog for quite a long time.
Below are some of the patents I found from the blog:
One patent shows that Google cars are able to pick and drop a person from one place to another and also have the capability to park itself.
Further, another patent discloses a feature that makes the driverless car popular among enterprise fleet managers. A car fleet owner can easily avert misuse of his cars in the following ways –
- An owner of the car can prohibit some particular areas and a driver will not be able to drive the car in those prohibited areas.
- The fleet manager can impose time restrictions and can prohibit the use of vehicles outside the office hours.
- The car generates a log and this log can be used to monitor the performance of a driver.
Moreover, a patent revealed an obstacle detection unit of Google’s driverless car that includes sonar, stereo cameras, a localization camera, a laser, and a radar detection unit.
These sensors help the driverless car’s computer to identify, track and predict the movements of pedestrians, bicycles, and other vehicles on the roadway. And based on the data provided by these sensors, the robotic chauffeur makes driving strategies.
Furthermore, there is another patent that reveals a feature that a driverless car uses its object detection system to identify, track and predict the movements of pedestrians, bicycles, other vehicles, or objects like road signs on the roadway.
If you analyze these are the basic functions of a driverless car which means Google secures the workings of basic functions.
Also, the core part of a driverless car is not a car but a computer that functions in the car. And we all know how brilliant Google’s capability is when it comes to software and AI.
Needless to say, Google certainly is one of the top contenders of self-driving technology and apparently is the top tech company of self-driving technology.