Whether the target date is the year 2020 or slightly beyond, there’s no question that there are many companies – automotive, tech, ride-share and others – with a lot invested in the successful outcome of driverless cars. Depending on what benchmarks are used, there are easily 20+ such companies with the best shot in the driverless car race.
Most of the following companies are listed in a report by Visiongainglobal.com, “Top 20 Companies Developing Autonomous Vehicle Technologies 2016.” Other news reports (including Business Insider) of companies actively involved in driverless car development flesh out the list.
Apple – Long rumored Project Titan’s focus is on an Apple iCar – although this has never been publicly acknowledged. Motley Fool says the timetable for an all-electric car with some driverless features from Apple is believed to be sometime in 2021.
Audi – Although a specially-equipped Audi A7 made news in 2015 by self-driving 550 miles, there’s been no further official word on when and if Audi will build a production fully self-driving vehicle. But the German automaker was the first to receive an autonomous driving permit in Nevada in 2012 and California in 2014. Volkswagen, Audi’s parent company, has committed to developing a fully autonomous vehicle through Audi, without working on incremental self-driving features that would require a driver’s intervention.
Baidu – The Chinese tech giant is now testing driverless vehicles on public roads in China. Baidu says its plans include driverless shuttles for public transportation on the road by 2018.
BMW – While its 7-Series already has standard lane keeping assist and side collision protection, BMW is committed to an all-electric car with driverless technology capability as part of its Project i20 in 2021. By 2025, however, cars from the Project i20 will be fully autonomous.
Bosch – Automotive Supplier Bosch is working on technology for a driverless vehicle. It’s expected to have a driverless car ready by 2020. The company showed off a concept interior at CES in January 2016 and has been testing its driverless car tech on public roads in Germany, Japan and the U.S. since 2013.
Daimler – The parent company of Mercedes-Benz is deep into development of autonomous vehicle technology, specifically driverless trucks. A Mercedes-Benz big rig, called the Highway Pilot, could be ready for public road use by 2020.
Delphi Automotive – Two major automotive suppliers, Delphi Automotive and Mobileye, just announced a partnership to develop a fully autonomous system they could sell to automakers. The two companies said the system will be available on a number of platforms and could be in production by late 2019 or 2020. Delphi Automotive earlier said it will have autonomous cars operating in Singapore’s Central Business District by 2022. Some 40-50 vehicles will be in the fleet. The cars will be controlled remotely and will not have a steering wheel. But they will have a passenger-activated button to stop the vehicle in the case of an emergency.
Faraday Future – Slated for production in 2020, Faraday Future’s eCar will have prototypes ready by the end of this year that will be indicative of production-type vehicles. Faraday won approval to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in California in June of this year. A teaser photo of the electric production vehicle released by the company four months ago shows the shape of an SUV.
Ford – The Dearborn, Michigan automaker already has successfully tested driverless cars that can “see” in total darkness – with no light from headlights or street lights. It’s part of the company’s plan to introduce fully autonomous vehicles with level 4 autonomy (no driver interaction) by 2021. Ford’s driverless car will have no steering wheel and no gas or brake pedals.
General Motors – Two major investments earlier this year signal big moves in the driverless vehicle arena. GM invested $500 million with Lyft for a network of on-demand, fully driverless car fleet. GM also bought San Francisco startup Cruise Automation in March 2016 in a $1 billion deal.
Google – Everyone’s acknowledge technology gorilla, Google has provided suggestions it’s working to have driverless technology ready by 2020. The former head of Google’s self-driving project, Chris Urmson, said in March 2015 the team was aiming for a 2020 deadline. The cars from Google won’t have a steering wheel.
Honda – Japanese automaker Honda intends to have its fully autonomous car on the road in 2020. The company has been testing its driverless car tech at Concord Naval Weapons Station since March 2015. Honda plans to roll out semi-autonomous features such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist in its Acura and Civic cars, reports Reuters.
Hyundai – Korean automaker Hyundai is working on incorporating driverless car features in its vehicles by 2020, but no fully autonomous vehicle from Hyundai is expected until the year 2030, reports Reuters. It should be noted that the carmaker’s premium brand, Genesis, already has driverless features like autonomous braking in its vehicles.
LeEco – Another Chinese tech company, LeEco, is also working on driverless car technology with their vehicle LeSEE. The company plans to have it available as a fleet vehicle. LeEco is also a partner with Faraday Future.
Nissan – The Japanese automaker Nissan plans to have commercially viable autonomous cars on the road in 2020. The technology called ProPILOT is already on the company’s Serena van in Japan.
nuTonomy – Singapore’s nuTonomy will have 75 driverless vehicles in operation in the city by 2018. The vehicle is Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV.
PSA Group – The company, PSA Group/Peugeot Citroën, expects to have a fully autonomous vehicle ready by 2020.
Tesla – The flap over the recent death in a Tesla Model S with Autopilot notwithstanding, luxury electric car automaker Tesla says it will have technology ready by 2018 for fully autonomous vehicles.
Toyota – From stating publicly in 2014 that the company was not interested in developing driverless cars, intending to focus exclusively on driver-assist technology, in 2015 Toyota announced it would invest $1 billion in artificial intelligence and robotics (Toyota Research Institute), most of it transferrable to autonomous vehicle technology.
Uber – The latest venture from ride-hailing giant Uber is its partnership with Sweden’s Volvo to put 100driverless SUVs on the streets of Pittsburgh by the end of August 2016. Professionally trained engineers will sit behind the wheel and a co-pilot in the passenger’s seat will record notes during the test.
Volvo – The Swedish automaker, besides its recently-announced partnership with Uber to put 100 specially-equipped Volvo XC90s on Pittsburgh streets, has long stated its commitment to fully “deathproof” its cars by 2020. The automaker is also doing an autonomous riving experiment in China with 100 volunteers testing XC90s on public roads. This is all part of Volvo’s “DriveMe” project which is also testing 100 driverless Volvos in Gothenburg, Sweden and London in 2017.