The definition of biggest self driving car companies is dependent on how you measure something like the manufacture of the vehicle itself, versus the technology to make it self-driving or autonomous. With that in mind, below is a look at some of those who are regarded as the biggest self driving car companies in the world:
Waymo is a undisputed frontrunner in the self-driving car market. The brainchild of Alphabet, which is the parent company of search engine Google, Waymo began its mission to create self-driving technology in 2009. This was a full six years ahead of rival companies, and its headstart has showed through over 4 million self-driven miles on public roads as of 2018.
A key difference for Waymo is that it is utilizing the technology but not necessarily building the self-driving car from scratch. For instance, Waymo will be purchasing up to 62,000 Chrysler minivans for a self-driving ride-hailing service.
GM has been the first car manufacturer to achieve level 4 on the autonomous driving scale. Its Chevrolet Bolt has no steering wheel or pedals, and there are imminent plans for the vehicle to be used in its own ride-hailing service on the streets of San Francisco.
Ride-hailing app Uber loses around $1bn every financial quarter, and at the core of these losses is in money paid to its drivers. The unsustainability of its model is well known and isn’t intended to last forever, for the company has received significant investment that it has used to develop self-driving technology.
Uber has experienced a major setback however: during trials in Arizona, an Uber car using autonomous technology hit and killed a pedestrian, the first ever instance of a self driving vehicle killing someone outside the car.
Tesla is a little more grounded in its approach, utilizing an auto-pilot feature that devolves to the driver in particular instances. However, this technology has also exposed serious flaws in autonomous driving, as evidenced by the death of Wei Huang, who in March 2018 was driving an autopiloted Model X and took his hands off the wheel in the moments before a fatal crash.
Volvo is known for its consistently forward thinking approach to car manufacturing, yet little is known of its self-driving car research. What can be confirmed is that they opened the MobilityXlab in collaboration with Ericsson, Autoliv and Zenuity in October 2017, and what ultimately comes out of there could be a game-changer.