The Driverless Car Race is Heating Up--Uber Wants to be the Leader

Uber’s race for autonomous vehicle supremacy is contested by a lot of major global car manufacturers. While Uber has deals with Toyota and Volvo, they are now facing competition from Waymo, GM and Ford in the US, Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi’s, together with DeNA in Japan are seeking to partner up with Chinese Didi Chuxing. Mercedes and Bosch in Germany are preparing for a major AV launch in 2020. Waymo received TNC status in Arizona, and this comes after a successful year testing their Chrysler AV’s in Phoenix.

By Driving_Google_Self-Driving_Car.jpg: Steve Jurvetsonderivative work: Mariordo - This file was derived from Driving Google Self-Driving Car.jpg, CC BY 2.0, Link

Basically, the AV race is on, it is hot, and it is bloody. The market is not just about rideshare cars; it is about autonomous vehicles and how the world of transportation will change within the next 5 years. The race goes way beyond the app taxi trade. Whole industries are gearing up to change the basic design of cars, where the focus is on rider comfort and space, gadgetry and in ride entertainment and less on power and speed.

Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa told Reuters."We realize that it's going to take time to become a service operator, but we want to enter into this segment by partnering with companies which are experts in the field,"

Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the press this week that he intends to "make sure we have access to leading autonomous technology." This comes at the time he opens up for more partnerships beyond Toyota and after the Waymo-Uber case closed with Waymo's win. Khosrowshahi continued to say "In less than a year, autonomous vehicles will be on the road in our network."

There will be no winners in this race. It is the same race that car manufacturers have, its about branding and selling. What AV’s will bring is a new model and make for competition, the new competition will be around three functions: safety of ride, accuracy of navigation and comfort of the riders. These three functions will define how successful an AV will be. This means that the new car will come with three separate packages for comparison: the engine for economical energy usage, the AV for accuracy and efficiency, and the car body for comfort and utility. As usual the car manufacturers will be the ultimate winners since it does not matter which rideshare company or AV tech developer comes on the scene, they all have to go to the automobile industry for cars and parts.

Uber Shmuber, there are no leaders, only players in an endless dance of evolution. It doesn’t matter how much money they plow into the R&D, at the end of the day, AV’s will be common place and every car will have an AV option. I just hope that mine gets that sexy Waze voice, …oooh, darling, do you want me to turn right now ma’ Cherie? Oui? Oh la la.