Superficial observers may have got the impression in recent months that autonomous car developers have become silent and that the many activities have lost momentum. “You promised us driverless cars several years ago, and still there are none. What is the matter?” This is roughly the tenor of the past few months.
But in the background the work is done diligently and the results become visible drop by drop. On September 24, 2020, Jorge Corral posted a new video of an encounter with a driverless Waymo One in the FB group Self-driving cars / Autonomous cars / Driverless cars.
A few weeks ago, Zoox, the fourth company in California, the $1.2 billion self-driving technology start-up just purchased from Amazon, received approval to take completely driverless test drives on some streets around the company’s Foster City headquarters. The company thus joined Google’s sister company Waymo, delivery robot developer Nuro, and Chinese start-up AutoX, which also received such a license. Here is a video compilation of driverless Waymos in the Phoenix region of Arizona.
Voyage CEO Oliver Cameron today posted the first video of a completely driverless vehicle equipped with the next generation of self-drive technology (code name: G3 Beta) currently under development on the test track. Voyage already operates a robotic taxi service in two retirement communities in San Jose, California and Florida.
An employee of AutonomouStuff, a company that retrofits regular cars with hardware for autonomous vehicle development and is consulted by many self-drive technology developers, mentioned on LinkedIn that for the first time he too had to remove a steering wheel from a standard vehicle he was equipping with self-drive technology.
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Further posts come to so-called “unprotected left turns“, which are among the hardest problems in autonomous driving. The videos from various companies show in an impressive way that this tough problem is also well on the way to being solved by several companies at the same time. Here a video from Voyage:
Here a video from Argo with the same task:
Argo also describes in detail in a blog why the company is testing in several cities simultaneously. In the USA, there are sometimes significant, sometimes subtle differences in traffic signs, road markings, traffic regulations, construction measures, but also pedestrian behavior that the vehicles have to learn.
Also, I saw a density of self-driving vehicles on Highway 101 yesterday, which I had not seen before in this quantity. I could see three self-driving trucks from Embark, Kodiak and an unidentified start-up southbound between San Francisco and San Jose, and besides the Apple vehicle, two Waymo vehicles, including the Jaguar iPace of the Waymo Engineering Team. Here is the video of the Apple vehicle on Highway 101:
In other words: Now that the 1st tipping point in the upheaval in the automotive industry has been reached with electric mobility and has thus become unavoidable, the wave is already rolling towards us at full speed with the 2nd tipping point with autonomous cars. Autonomous cars will not be available in 10 to 20 years at the earliest,as many non- and pretend-experts may believe, the next five years will bring them to us.
This article was also published in German.