Who’s Winning the Driverless Car Race and Does It Matter

The future appears to have picked up speed in our direction. At least as far as autonomous vehicles are concerned.

More and more companies and car manufacturers have put skin in the game and started researching autonomous cars and their supporting systems.

Some of those companies are Uber, Lyft, Waymo, Volvo, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Apple, Intel, BMW, Audi, Google, nuTonomy, Bosch. Tesla, Ford, and FiveAI.

At this point then, a fair question is, who's winning the race?

Uber and Alphabet's Waymo have taken an early lead but according to Raj Kapoor, Lyft's chief strategy officer, it does not matter at this point in time who's leading the pack.

At a conference sponsored by software company Pivotal, Kapoor was quoted as saying "There's going to be an opportunity for a lot of people in this ecosystem, but we're going to go through a gut-wrenching decade or so where everyone is jostling for a position."

Kapoor's reason for making the above statement is based on two key observations.

The first observation has to do with being in unchartered water.

For the concept of autonomous vehicles to be successful the companies working on them cannot just focus on the vehicles. This is a new concept that will disrupt not only the type of cars we drive and how we drive them but the entire automotive industry.

As a result, the leaderboard positions will continually change depending on how long the automotive industry takes to create or modify their systems to be compatible with autonomous vehicles and whom they choose to do it with.

The second observation has to do with rapidly evolving technology.

Kapoor noted that with each and every new technological invention, companies with autonomous vehicles would be required to retest their cars against it to make sure that the release has not compromised them in any way. Especially where safety is concerned.

These new technological inventions could result in one company getting a boost over another causing once again the leaderboard positions to change.

In conclusion then it appears that the race to bring the first autonomous vehicle to market will be a relatively long one. It will also be characterized by the players involved striking up partnerships up and down the proverbial highway as they test out various technologies looking for the best fit.