Ford closest to breaching the next automotive frontier according to a new study by a market research company.
The research ranked 18 leading autonomous driving technology developers based on its strategy and execution in regards to 10 criteria including production strategy, product capability, technology and go-to market strategy.
Ford was rated first, followed by General Motors, Renault-Nissan and Daimler – Mercedes-Benz’s parent company.
The following group included the Volkswagen Group , BMW, Waymo – owned by Google’s parent Alphabet – and Volvo.
Ford was ranked the highest due to its advanced on-road testing programs in Michigan, California and Arizona. Ford has also announced plans to expand its testing to Europe in 2017.
This emerging technology has infiltrated safety technology systems such as Ford’s new Evasive Steering Assist, which is capable of helping drivers steer around slow or stopped vehicles through the use of radar and camera detection.
The American car maker has set itself a target of 2021 for when it wants a fully autonomous vehicle on the road, with ride-sharing its initial focus.
General Motor is employing the same strategy, and has teamed up with ride-sharing company Lyft to test thousands of driverless Chevrolet Bolts around the US in 2018, however, initially GM is testing a fleet of 40 cars in California and Arizona with a plan to extend to Michigan.
Daimler, which is Mercedes-Benz’s parent company is also fairly advanced in its driverless technology. The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class set the benchmark for its use of semi-driverless tech in a production car that keeps the car in its lane, thanks to its use radar and cameras, and is also able to change lanes without assistance.
While fellow German car maker BMW has ramped up its driverless car push after the reveal of its Strategy Number One Next in 2016 which aims to have autonomous vehciles on the road by 2021.
The German brand has plans to start undertaking real world autonomous road tests in the Munich area from 2017.
Plus a new developmental base is to be set up outside of Munich, dedicated to the development of the company’s autonomous technology with plans for a total of 2000 employees by its completion. BMW will also keep its technological development inhouse instead of teaming up with a traditional tech company.
Waymo, which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, has decided to forgo the car building part and focus on the technology and partner with a traditonal auto maker, Fiat Chrysler.
This year, Chrysler is building 100 Pacifica people-movers fitted with Waymo’s array of sensors, telematics and other systems to enable driverless operation.
Meanwhile, Uber is utilising Volvo’s for its autonomous driving tech. The ride-sharing company was recently chased out of San Francisco where its trial on public roads was rejected by the department of motor vehicles. Uber is now trialling its vehicles in Arizona, however, these tests have been temporarily suspended due to an accident with one of the test vehicles in March.
However, one company that could have a big impact on the market is tech giant Intel, which recently took control of MobileEye. This teams one of the best computing brains in the business with one of the best eyes in the game. While the venture is only new, it could escalate the autonomous arms race significantly.
Locally, South Australia is attempting to position itself as the leader in autonomous car technology, after recently announcing the state government recently committed $5.6 million to a variety of emerging programs set to service Adelaide Airport, Flinders University and the Tonsley Innovation Precinct on the site of Mitsubishi’s former manufacturing site.
Top 10 most advanced driverless technology makers*
Hyundai Motor Group
*According to Navigant Research