Major International Auto Manufacturers Scrambling for Driverless Technology

Who dared imagine 30 years ago that today cars would be self-driving along our highways and roads? Perhaps any suggestion that technology would bring car that drove themselves would have been laughed off as an insane joke. But that is precisely where we are headed.

In the past two years, according to information from the businessinsider.com, a lot of actions about self-driving cars have been witnessed in the auto manufacture scene. What started out as safety innovation for advanced cruise control has now blossomed into a fully-fledged experimental industry producing installations of semi-autonomous systems to fully self-driving vehicles? With a lot going on in the inventions, there are many similarities and differences that will characterize the introduction of the new technology.

Recently, Forbes covered a news feature that indicated the scramble for the driverless technology is not limited to the US and other Western countries only, but it is now ubiquitous and can be found in places like China. This useful site identifies technology which is quite common now on luxury and mass-market vehicles, which incorporate the use of cameras, sensors, radars and lasers to control and manage the speed of a car while it is cruising on the road. The car can effectively sense when to speed up and when to slow down.

In China, for instance, Baidu, a leading search engine company is bringing several automakers in China, tech firms and international parts manufacturers into an alliance. The purpose of the alliance is to accelerate a project for driverless technology known as Apollo which is a large scale open-source initiative. The companies taking part in the initiative include Great Wall Motors, FAW Group, Changan Automobile Group and Chery Automobile.

The international parts suppliers keen on the project are Continental and ZF, and Bosch. Suppliers for the eyes and the brains for the autonomous vehicles like Velodyne the maker of LiDar and Nvidia which is a giant maker of graphics chips. Baidu is interested in refining the technology faster so that its adoption on a broader scale can be speeded up.

More than 50 partner companies are involved in the approach to the open-source technology for driverless vehicles. In an emailed statement, Qi Lu, the Chief Operating Officer and the President of the company said that Apollo will essentially be the “Android” of the autonomous driving industry, but it will be more powerful and more open. Apollo will accumulate data and source code that will be used to modify individual projects by any developer working on the software for autonomous driving.

Lu added that Apollo will belong to anyone in the ecosystem because all the partners are contributing to the platform in their various areas of specialty. The technology will also provide access to simulation services and tools for robust driving that will be vital for the training systems of artificial intelligence being developed. The aim will be to come up with technology that will drive vehicles more safely and better than humans.
In 2016, Baidu’s unit received a permit to test autonomous vehicles in the State of California.

The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale.

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