WITH its successful test of robo-taxis on the streets of Pittsburgh last week, Uber has dominated recent headlines on autonomous vehicles. But behind the scenes three groups—technology giants such as Uber, carmakers and a whole fleet of autoparts suppliers—are in a tight race. Each is vying to develop the hardware and software that make up the complex guts of a self-driving vehicle.
A couple of years ago tech firms appeared well ahead in this battle. But, Uber aside, they have dabbed the brakes of late. The recent departure from Google of Chris Urmson, the company’s figurehead for autonomous vehicles and the man who once promised it would put self-driving cars on the road by 2017, is a significant reversal. The recent slimming of the team at Apple that is devoted to building an autonomous electric car, also shows that tech firms are not having it all their own way (though Apple’s possible tie-up with McLaren, a British maker of sports cars and Formula 1 racing team, would be one way to put its carmaking ambitions back on track).
Carmakers, meanwhile, are making more of the running after a…Continue reading