More and more automakers are jumping on the bandwagon to boost their stake in autonomous vehicle development.
While Apple will have no issues with the software portion of the project, it has been shown that the company is searching for assistance on the vehicle itself. Other companies joining the game, mostly established automakers, need to assure that the software portion is attainable.
Aside from Google and Tesla, we haven’t heard a lot of press about emerging autonomous car software giants. However, GM recently acquired a software company called Cruise Automation. The three-year-old company is small, with only 40 employees, but it has already started testing self-driving vehicles in San Francisco.
GM President Dan Ammann said:
“It’s our view that driverless technology will be demonstrably safer than the human driver.”
Cruise Automation, although not yet a software giant, has already been researching autonomous transportation in hopes to keep up with companies like Google, Tesla, and Mercedes. This additional acquisition will benefit GM further. No timeline has been revealed, but Armmann assured that it will happen when the car is “ready”. Seems it’s going to be an extended Christmas Eve at GM too!
The plan is for all Cruise Automation employees to join GM but work as a separate entity. GM added that more employees are yet to be hired. The cost of the deal has been kept a secret.
Hiring experts from another company at undisclosed costs and hiding timelines is apparently not only happening at Apple. Although the major automakers have been much more forthcoming with announcements and concept reveals, it is coming to be that all companies must take some level of care to maintain secrecy in this “competition”.
Kyle Vogt, Cruise Automation CEO, explained that his company is one of the few companies other than Google that have permits to test in California. This surely doesn’t mean that there aren’t going to be many more following suit in the near future. The company is focusing on better cameras and sensors to assure that the cars can see the lanes in all conditions. Only one crash has been reported by the company.
As Apple has been reportedly hiring known auto experts, automakers are beefing up their prospects by hiring software designers, or funneling money into that department. Only time will tell where the ventures take them. With Apple being the number one software company in the world, with limitless money and resources, and an expansive “Project Titan” team already in place, it’s doubtful Tim Cook is worried.
Source (ABC News)