Articles, Level 5 Autonomous Driving, Smart Mobility

Who leads the Race for Autonomous Driving?

Research facility Navigant analyzed development leadership in autonomous driving.
Time and again researchers are dealing with question on who or which company will be able to establish driverless cars first. Well, we are not there yet, but let’s have a look at the organizations that are leading today. There are several approaches to investigate this question – Navigant for instance focused on companies and not on customer perception.

Comparing different Studies

Two past studies show how the race has evolved so far from the customers‘ perspective. In 2014 consultancy Berylls asked potential driverless car users from different regions and countries who they think were the leaders in autonomous driving. Most end users are confident that German car manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW will be the first companies to offer autonomous car. Back in 2014, people already got Google on their radar – every fifth person expected Google to be the first company offering an autonomous vehicle.
Last year trade association Bitkom asked the same question with regard to countries – here the US took the first place followed by Germany and China. The efforts of companies like Google and Tesla made the US move forward in the ranking, although 40% of the surveyed people saw traditional (German) car manufacturers winning the long run.

Navigant Study: GM, Waymo lead

Like already mentioned above, Navigant evaluated companies and did not take into account the users‘ perception. The result is a ranking of 19 companies led by General Motors and Google subsidiary Waymo. Unlike its leading role from a customer perspective Tesla only takes the last place in the Navigant ranking. This is due to its splitup with Mobileye. The Isreali startup is now part of the BMW-Intel self-driving car alliance with the goal to develop the autnomous car until 2021. Also Tesla is the only contender that is not using Lidar technology for its vehicles. Other use Lidar sensors for navigation and localization.

GM and Waymo have been outbidding each other in terms of implementation dates for autonomous cars. But now even GM has announced that the company won’t be able to offer its robo taxi service to the market before 2021. Nevertheless GM acquired Cruise Automation lately which is enough for P1 in the race. Waymo is following closely, having presented the first distribution and insurance partners for its robo taxis. Driverless tests have already been conducted.

About the author:

David Fluhr is journalist and owner of the digital magazine “Autonomes Fahren & Co”. He is reporting regularly about trends and technologies in the fields Autonomous Driving, HMI, Telematics and Robotics. Link to his site: