Unlike other domains, the automobile industry does not strive to innovate much. Car manufacturers buck the trend of innovation- from LED taillights to ABS brakes. In fact, this is the very factor that impedes the arrival of self-driving cars. However, Google is set to change this notion. Though not a reputed name in the automotive business, Google is working on something that will have even the top car manufacturers look in awe.
Google is expected to join hands with German auto parts manufacturer Continental AG. In addition, Continental AG would also tie up with IBM. The German manufacturer has demonstrated high profits ($40 billion) in 2012; and is associated with the top car manufacturers in Germany, Japan and North America. Therefore, it makes sense that the search engine giant tie up with Continental AG.
While Continental is synonymous with tires, it also manufactures and transmission parts for automobiles. The recent tie up of Continental with Cisco Systems to make a ‘connected car’ with better-than-ever Internet function, deserves a mention.
Top car manufacturers had declared that by 2020 self driving cars would arrive, although they were not happy about it. This is because self driving cars would attract less maintenance and repairs, which means, lesser revenues for automotive companies.
Google, IBM and Continental, together can achieve great benchmarks in automobile automation. Cars with partial automation have the green signal for testing in Nevada, Florida and California. However, legalization of partial automation testing is being met with negative moves. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have created a classification system that rates on a scale of 0 to 4 (zero meaning no automation and four meaning complete automation). The said body has asked the states to ban partial automated vehicles until the technology passes all tests.
In such difficult times, hope comes in the form of luxury automotive companies, who are making moves toward creating commercial self driving vehicles. Recently, BMW test vehicle was spotted in California with Bosch technology.
While the San Francisco Bay Area is witnessing more and more autonomous cars from Google, it was the Bosch-owned BMW 325d that caught the attention of onlookers in Palo Alto, California. The car had a rack with an array of sensors similar to those on Google’s cars. Cnet says that it could be a LIDAR sensor that employs laser to create a 3D image of the vehicle’s environment. The car also had a an industrial-grade GPS antenna for location-tracking.
These developments clearly suggest that the day is not far when self driving cars will be available commercially in the world. And Google may be one of the first companies in this arena.