Autonomous driving continues to be one of the most widespread research and development activities within the global automotive industry, as automakers and technology companies alike strive to put advancements into production and implement them for on-road testing and approvals.
According to a recent report from IHS Automotive, companies like Google and others are currently working toward solutions in the autonomous vehicle space, while "car- as-a-service" organizations like Uber, Lyft and others are set to create disruption and add operational expertise that will significantly influence autonomous vehicle development and consumer consideration in the next decade.
It's well known that self-driving and driverless cars are inevitable. It is only a question of time in bringing various options to market for consumers, and gaining their acceptance. The report includes full IHS Automotive analysis of Google's past activities -- and outlines future scenarios for Google and others in the auto industry as they continue technology developments toward autonomous driving.
Two primary research and development strategies to achieve self-driving vehicles are in place today - evolutionary and revolutionary. Most traditional automotive manufacturers are on the evolutionary track with their R&D efforts, continuing along the current path of improving advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) to partial self-driving, and eventual full self-driving vehicles.
On the other hand, Google leads the revolutionary approach and will have a major impact in the coming years. Uber is also beginning to implement some of its own R&D in this arena, as it works toward solutions for the next stage of its disruptive transportation strategy.
The key to self-driving cars is a software that can interpret all of a vehicles' sensors and learn to mimic the driving skills and experiences of the very best drivers. Google is the current technology leader in this arena, according to IHS Automotive estimates, which suggest the technology company has invested nearly $60 million so far in autonomous vehicle research and development, at a run rate of nearly $30 million per year.
Unlike traditional vehicle manufacturers, Google also has the ability to leverage adjacent technologies and learnings from its other projects and investments - including robotics, drones and related technologies that help automotive operations, such as neural networks, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and machine vision. This provides Google researchers additional expertise not available directly to traditional OEMs.