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Developing and testing autonomous vehicles can be a drawn-out, difficult process, as companies must determine ways to deal with ever-emerging flaws with these vehicles' technologies.
Most recently, the vehicles in Nissan’s self-driving tests in London had trouble navigating the city's complex roads. To help find a solution these types of ongoing technical issues, Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing recently opened an autonomous car research lab in Silicon Valley. The company is betting on a footprint beyond a single market, which would give it access to more engineers and different roads to test on.
Self-driving vehicles often have trouble maneuvering complex roads. This was the case for Nissan with its self-driving tests in London. The Japanese automaker brought its self-driving Leaf prototypes to London earlier this year, but the vehicles experienced difficulties navigating the windy curves and roundabouts that are common to the city. Major market players Waymo and Uber have faced similar challenges with their autonomous cars.
Companies are increasingly looking beyond a single market to address these problems. Didi Chuxing recently opened a research center in California to help it develop its self-driving vehicle technology and absorb new talent. A broad geographic footprint of self-driving car tests and research can give companies access to a more diverse set of engineers and scientists, while also exposing them to different types of roads. This can speed up the development process for self-driving cars by placing them in different scenarios and testing whether they can react and adapt successfully.
Here are some other notable examples of companies going this route:
- Uber has conducted tests in three US states and is looking to move its vehicles overseas. The ride-hailing giant thus far has tested autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Arizona.
- Volvo is also testing in London and Sweden. Notably, the company is allowing ordinary families, not just engineers, to ride in its vehicles.
- BMW will use Intel and Mobileye technologies to test self-driving cars across several global locations later this year. This partnership will place Mobileye and Intel chips into BMW vehicles.
But if companies can’t solve technical issues, vehicle deployments will be delayed. In most cases, roads cannot be altered to meet the needs of autonomous vehicles, which means their technologies must improve or else deployment of autonomous vehicles will be halted. On the other hand, companies could seek to influence future road and infrastructure initiatives to meet the needs of their self-driving cars, such as the one President Trump is planning.
The self-driving car is no longer a futuristic fantasy. Consumers can already buy vehicles that, within a few years time, will get software updates enabling them to hit the road without the need for a driver.
This autonomous revolution will upend the automotive sector and disrupt huge swaths of the economy, while radically improving energy efficiency and changing the way people approach transport around the world.
Automakers and tech companies are racing to develop the technology that will power self-driving cars in the coming years. That tech is advancing, but leaves observers with a bigger question: will consumers trust driverless car tech, and will they want to use autonomous cars?
Peter Newman, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on self-driving cars that analyzes the market, and forecasts vehicle shipments and market penetration. It also profiles the players expected to take on a prominent role in the autonomous future, examines the barriers to autonomous car development and adoption, and reviews developments in technology, regulation, and consumer sentiment. Finally, it analyzes the impact the introduction of autonomy will have on various industries and transport trends.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Self-driving cars are coming; there will be fully autonomous cars on the roads in the US in 2018, and adoption will just take off from there.
- The technology is developing swiftly to allow fully self-driving vehicles, while the regulatory environment is adapting to the anticipated changes that this new technology will bring.
- We conducted a survey asking our exclusive BI Insiders panel about their thoughts on self-driving cars, the future of the automotive industry, and the impact autonomous vehicles will have on their purchasing habits moving forward. The results provide a picture of consumer sentiment at the precipice of the autonomous era.
In full, the report:
- Sizes the current and future self-driving car market, forecasting shipments and projecting installed base.
- Explains the current state of technology, regulation, and consumer perception.
- Analyzes how the development of autonomous cars will impact employment and the economy.
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