As we have stated time and again, the vision of autonomy of most auto manufacturers is not the same as that adopted by Silicon Valley’s stakeholders. Google, Uber and others are working on achieving NHTSA Level 4 autonomy while the auto OEMs are generally happy to have semi-autonomous features on vehicles ensuring the current business model is not threatened (As a side note: more studies undertaken in the field conclude that self-driving vehicles could drastically reduce vehicle ownership while others are suggesting that self-driving taxibots could replace 9 out of 10 cars).
Over the last few weeks, we saw increasing evidence of the two visions. Hyundai, for example, will invest US$1.8 Billion in driverless technologies by 2018 and will introduce its semi-autonomous Equus this year. The vehicle will allow owners “to take their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the brakes as they’re traveling down the highway, and let their car do the driving”. The company plans for fully self-driving vehicles in 2030.
Carlos Ghosn’s (Nissan Renault) perspectives have been discussed in previous newsletters: fully autonomous drive is at least a decade away. The company has re-emphasized its commitment to be ready with what have been described as NHTSA Level 3 autonomous vehicles by 2020.