When autonomous driving becomes a regular part of road transport is still a divination of the crystal ball. However, the first swallows are already beginning to appear on this relatively long journey. And not just in terms of automatic parking, lane maintenance, or overtaking, which is slowly becoming a standard feature of higher-class cars, but the actual self-steering of an average vehicle.
Autonomous driving control systems in the US
As the founders of Google, Page Lawrence and Sergey Brin confirmed their providence when they began investing in research in the field over the past decade. Waymo, part of Google’s wing (now Alphabet), began developing self-driving cars as early as 2009. Since then, test cars have traveled millions of miles across more than 13 U.S. states.
However, thanks to PR and Elon Musk, there has been more media coverage of autonomous proceedings from Tesla in recent years. However, in a month, it will be three years since Elon Musk spoke on “Autonomy Investor Day” about significant progress in this area. At that time, he expected the completion of the relevant “perfect” software in the given year, resp. Subsequently, in the middle of 2020, according to Elon Musk, the “robotaxi” roads were to begin to roam. Thus, Tesla cars were previously equipped from the factory with the necessary hardware for autonomous control, which should (should) only need to upgrade the relevant software via Wi-Fi.
However, Waymo’s earlier R&D seems to be bearing more real fruit. This month marks half a year since the company began testing autonomous cars with the help of regular volunteer users in San Francisco. In other words, in a big city where car traffic results in hundreds of injuries, 33 people died on the roads here last year. In recent months, Jaguar electric vehicles equipped with the Waymo system have provided free services to hundreds of users as robotaxi.
And it seems to be successful. Waymo said it was ready to remove safety drivers from its autonomous driving control systems inside vehicles in San Francisco. However, it did not specify a deadline, probably due to an unpredictable permit from the authorities. As Waymo CEO Tekedra Mawakana mentioned on the blog, the planned driverless operation would be “a significant step on our path to a fully autonomous commercial service.” In general, the launch of the technology will be expected to generate huge revenues and therefore profits in the future.
Therefore, it has been known to increase several car manufacturers’ research activity in this area. In terms of margins, this segment brings many times more benefits than car production itself. In connection with this, Tesla is certainly appreciated in the light of the vision of early autonomous management compared to the competition. Again for more than a trillion dollars.
However, the Volkswagen Group, for example, is also active in the area and wants to start production within four years as part of its electromobility and digitization strategy. Thus, within the framework of the Trinity project announced last year, the serial production of an electric car with an autonomous “Level 2+” level is to be started in 2026, resp. Technically capable of fully autonomous driving control systems “Level 4” management. General Motors develops similar systems/services in San Francisco as Waymo through Cruise. Earlier this month, she obtained permission from the California Public Service Commission (CPUC) to charge passengers for driving in the presence of a safety driver.
Many other automotive groups probably see the potential in this area in the Alphabet group. In addition to the Jaguar, Land Rover mentioned, Waymo’s partners include Daimler, Volvo, Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Geely, and the Stellantis group.
The self-driving car equipped with Waymo technology is easy to spot on the road. Thanks to many sensors, it looks like a mobile laboratory. In this respect, Tesla cars differ when the necessary hardware is practically “invisible.” However, in collaboration with Geely, Waymo has already presented a study of an autonomous car with less conspicuous hardware elements.
How such a robot can serve can be seen below in a video from Phoenix, where Waymo has even started driving without a driver before.
Regarding Waymo, it can be stated that other companies also provide its financing. For example, two years ago, it received $ 3 billion from T. Rowe Price Associates, Perry Creek Capital, and Fidelity Management.
In any case, the economic development of the Alphabet Group, in turn, is indicated by its long-term rising shares over time. Two years ago, the company first ranked among the trillion, resp. In January 2020, the company’s value jumped over a trillion dollars due to the exchange rate growth of the title. And it didn’t take long for the company’s valuation to double or short. This happened last year at the end of November when Alphabet joined the ranks of Apple and Microsoft as a company worth more than 2 trillion. At present, Alphabet shares (GOOG, GOOGL) are trading less than a tenth lower from the then highs. Currently, we can talk about the company’s value at the level of 1.83 trillion. USD.