In 2020 we’ve seen self-driving cars taking a huge leap forward. It’s time to take a look at where the field is at the moment and what to expect. In October Waymo and Tesla were especially in the news but almost every other player has reminded us of their existence this year as well.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

Introduction: Roads Ahead by MIT

New research from MIT “Autonomous Vehicles, Mobility, and Employment Policy: The Roads Ahead,” has indicated that visions of automation in mobility will not be fully realized in the next few years, rather it will take more than a decade. The transition will also not occur suddenly or in isolation. Initially, fully automated driving will be restricted to limited geographic regions and climates. …


It has been said that “Self-driving cars were supposed to be here already” and pessimists have given up hope. But contrary to popular belief, there’s already plenty of self-driving vehicles on the roads. So, this article focuses on the use cases that are already happening right now. I’ve also written about The Most Interesting Self-Driving Car Companies and gathered a list of All Major Self-Driving Car Companies.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

A growing consensus holds that driver-free vehicles will begin to trickle, not flood, into the market and below are examples of how the tide is turning.

  1. Robo Taxis
  2. Robo Trucks
  3. Robo Farming vehicles
  4. Robo Mining…


The top 10 companies invested $16bn in 2019 in Self-Driving Car development and continue to invest at least at the same level in 2020. Here’s a round up of what’s going on the most interesting companies in the Self-Driving Car market.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

(I got the inspiration for this analysis from the Navigant Leaderboard Grid and the Information’s article on R&D investments. Both are linked below.)


Around 2045 half of new vehicles are expected to be autonomous. Here’s a list of all the major self-driving car companies categorized by funding, valuation, and company type. In fact, the self-driving car development has progressed rapidly in the past two years so it’s time to update my previous outlook from 2018.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

Before moving on to the players in the market it’s good to know when to expect the results. Luckily Victoria Transport Policy institute published recently their 2020 prediction (see the picture below) regarding the speed of autonomous vehicles implementation. …


The latest analyst estimates are that the ride-hailing companies completed 28 billion rides in 2019 with 27% annual growth. In this article, I’ve listed the latest moves of the biggest car manufacturers and some other major players in this field.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

28 billion rides in 2019 vs 22 billion 2018

According to ABI Research, the ride-hailing companies completed 28 billion rides in 2019 resulting in 27% annual growth. The market has grown rapidly — there were 22 bn rides in 2018 and 16 bn rides in 2017

The biggest number of rides were provided by:


People love their cars as status symbols and providers of the illusion of personal freedom. However, the entire concept of private car ownership is changing as the shared, automated, electric vehicles are coming. In this article, I focus on the sharing part of the change and specifically on why ride-hailing is winning over private car ownership.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by iStock

The end of car ownership?

The discussion on the end of car ownership and how owning a car will soon be a thing of the past has accelerated now that ride-hailing companies Uber, Didi Chuxing, and Lyft are all planning IPOs in 2019. In their market forecast, Arbib & Seba (2017) argue that private car ownership will drop 80% by 2030 in the US. In fact, the usage of ride-hailing services has already resulted in reduced car ownership according to research findings of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Texas A&M Transportation Institute and Columbia University in 2017. The ride-hailing service providers have gotten similar results in their own studies (e.g. Lyft in 2017). On the other hand, these findings have been criticized and, instead, the increase in ride-hailing has been said to result in a decrease in public transportation usage. …


The latest forecasts estimate that there will be 125 million electric cars in 2030 and as many as 559 million in 2040. Indeed, the sales of electric cars have been increasing fast since Tesla started delivering Model S in 2012 and the global amount of electric vehicles exceeded 4 million in June 2018. There are many expected benefits since they can reduce emissions, save you money, and make it easier to implement self-driving cars.

Image for post
Image for post
Electric car charging in Sunnyvale, CA

2018 actuals and forecast: +60% annual growth

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, there are now over 4 million electric vehicles in the world. The annual sales growth rate has been rapidly increasing since the first million milestone was crossed in 2015. In H1/2018 the car dealers delivered 0,78 million cars equaling 66% growth from H1/2017. …


This the English summary of my introductory lection (lectio precursoria) I gave in Finnish at my PhD defense at Aalto University on Feb 2nd, 2018. The title of the dissertation is: “The Impact of Technology on the Strategic Management of a Knowledge-Intensive Project Organization.”

Image for post
Image for post

Custos, my esteemed Opponent, ladies and gentlemen.

Do we still need humans? aka Rise of the Robots

Consider the balance between the human mind and the machine. An accountant with a spreadsheet and an engineer with a computer-aided design system are examples of how we have thought about the essentially supporting role of computing power. As machine learning becomes a major force, however, the balance is beginning to change — to the extent that the question is starting to shift from “What can computers do?” to “What do we still need humans for?” Anyone who thinks their personal contribution is special or un-computable should have significant doubts. …


The first self-driving cars from Waymo will begin commercial service already in 2018 and many other brands will launch in 2019–2021. These shared, automated, electric vehicles will provide billions of people safer, cleaner, and more convenient mobility. So, it’s important to follow the estimated launch years of different car brands and technology platforms to be able to anticipate when the revolution truly hits us. I will analyze this spectacular disruption in other upcoming blog posts — in this one, the focus is on the timeline.

Image for post
Image for post
Waymo self-driving car in Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA

2018 — Waymo/FCA/Jaguar and Lyft/Aptiv, (Uber)

The Google Self-Driving Car Project (now called Waymo) started already in 2015 soon partnering with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). Waymo’s self-driving fleet of 600 cars has driven more autonomous miles than any competitor. In fact, in October 2018 the fleet had driven over 10 million miles on public streets in 25 cities though the focus has been on the streets of Mountain View (CA), Austin (TX), Kirkland (WA), and Phoenix (AZ). It took 10 years to reach this milestone, but the next 10 million is expected to come already next year, because it was as recently as in August 2018 when the fleet crossed 9 million miles. Waymo launched early rider program for “hundreds of riders” in Phoenix in 2017. Now in 2018 Waymo started preparations for a commercial launch with two major announcements: 1) Making $1Bn deal with Jaguar Land Rover in March to deliver 20.000 electric cars able to provide 1 million rides per day and 2) Ordering 62.000 electric minivans from FCA in May, therefore, increasing the capacity to 4 million daily rides. Waymo plans to launch the service in Phoenix still in Q4/2018, next in San Francisco, and later on in other US-cities. …

About

Erkka Niemi, PhD

Technology enthusiast CTO with a lifelong addiction to skateboarding in Helsinki & Palo Alto @Unikieinc @AaltoUniversity #SelfDrivingCars #DeepTech

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store