Thanks to the rapidly falling cost of sensors, companies in the automotive and tech sectors are now racing to get on the ground floor of a self-driving car revolution. For this article, I’ll just be listing off some of the recent developments in the industry.
Volvo Car Corp. will begin its project in Sweden in 2017, while Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. prepare to launch competing systems by 2020.
Google parent Alphabet Inc. recently said it would be partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV to test its self-driving technology in minivans.
Meanwhile, Ford says it’s going to deliver self-driving cars by 2021 in volume, offering full Level 4 self-driving features though they will still be primarily aimed at ride-sharing programs and luxury car buyers until costs can be brought down.
Even top auto-parts suppliers Delphi Automotive PLC and Mobileye NV are working together to develop an autonomous driving system that car makers could begin installing in their vehicles as soon as 2019, though they say they will likely hit the market closer to 2021.
While manufacturers are planning to mass-produce self-driving cars by 2021, few expect them to replace personal transport close to that time given psychological and financial constraints. Ford company executives expect its first shipments to go to commercial-fleet operators looking to cut labor costs. Still, so long as the sensor technology keeps getting cheaper, it is only a matter of time before autonomous cars have the chance to go mainstream.