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Autonomous Vehicles in Transportation, Part 3: Industry Players

If you have ever rented the movie Tucker, you would know why there were only a handful of major automobile corporations in the 1950’s to 1970’s. Prior to that, the trend for car manufacturing was an open playing field with companies such as LaSalle, Willy’s Overland, Packard, and others. The days of emerging car companies have returned due mostly to innovation with companies such as Tesla and Bandu. However this time, the field is different. It’s based on intelligence in electronics. It involves data-centric companies like Apple and Google. Also involved are those such as Nvidia18 which “According to Reuters, 320 companies involved in driverless cars are using Nvidia Drive to enable automakers, truck makers and startups to accelerate the production of automated and autonomous vehicles.”

The pursuit of the autonomous vehicle is also driving the stock market19 .

Many of these efforts have generated speculative articles as to secret operations such as Apple’s rumored purchase of an abandoned airfield19 ;however, there are reports that Apple is scaling back to a role of intelligence versus creating a vehicle22 . Google is also involved in a facility with Waymo where a fake city was built for testing vehicles20 at the former Castle Air Force Base 100 miles east of Silicon Valley.

Along with the newbies are standard industry names21 such as GM, Mercedes, Honda, Renault, Nissan, and others.

Software simulators are being used, in addition to actual test facilities. “While the fake city22 is impressive, Waymo has still clocked millions of more miles in computerized simulations, where thousands of virtual cars drive about 8 million miles a day, perfecting the software that gets uploaded onto the real cars. The simulation program, called Carcraft, includes models of Austin, Mountain View, and Phoenix.” This leads to more and more employment in the software and virtualization fields; areas that analog engineers might have to consider as demand exceeds supply. Analog opportunities will exist as technologies like LIDAR create a need for optical electronic-based ICs.

As the autonomous vehicle craze accelerates, it remains to be seen who the players are that will be left in the end. Perhaps one thing’s for certain, the first major pile up caused by these vehicles will most likely determine who is no longer in the field.

References

  • “Will Our Data Systems Be Able To Support Self-Driving Cars?: Self-Driving Technology and Data”, Chris Giarratana, trafficsafetystore website, Posted on June 8, 2017

2 comments on “Autonomous Vehicles in Transportation, Part 3: Industry Players

  1. D Feucht
    February 17, 2018

    Scott,

    We seem to have similar reserverberations about how well the driverless car will fare in the real world. When you write

    virtual cars drive about 8 million miles a day, perfecting the software that gets uploaded onto the real cars. The simulation program, called Carcraft, includes models of Austin, Mountain View, and Phoenix

    they must not have in mind most of the world, such as the Western Highway running through the center of Belize. Or better yet, the jungle road I live on – a “second gear” road – that would be a more realistic simulation. Or how about Panama City, where there are few auto crashes but the driving rules are different. I only counted two or three stop lights in the city of over a million people. And they have plenty of cars.

    Carcraft must be a simulator comparable to an Ebers-Moll 2 version of SPICE.

  2. Steve Taranovich
    February 18, 2018

    Excellent points and Ebers-Moll analogy Dennis (I love it!)—thank you—there are so many areas which we have not yet considered for the practical and diverse use of autonomous vehicles

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