Where’s My Driverless Car? — II

07 Baidu

Baidu made headlines on September 15 for demonstrating it’s Fully Automated Driving capability without a safety driver, through live streaming. This closely follows Baidu’s announced plans to expand its Apollo Go Robotaxi service in Beijing. Apollo’s new AI system can drive without a safety driver present inside, with a 5G Remote Driving Service enabled for remote driving — to assume control in case of any emergency. The hardware will also be installed in Baidu’s fully electric Apollo Go Robotaxi service too.

Baidu’s Apollo Robotaxi
Apollo Vehicle by Baidu & FAW Group

08 Hyundai

Hyundai’s autonomous vehicle project with Aptiv, after being rechristened to Motional in August this year, announced the resumption of its self-driving mobility service with Lyft in Las Vegas on October 22, after pausing its operations due to the pandemic. The BMW 5 series cars had serviced over 3,400 destinations at their peak and given 100,000 passengers rides as of February 2020. But unlike Waymo’s program, Motional’s fleet is not fully autonomous yet, with safety drivers required to be behind the wheel during every trip.

Motional’s Autonomous Vehicle
Yandex Hyundai Sonata 2020

09 Toyota

Toyota has created serious waves with the announcement of its 2021 Lexus LS with what it hascalled its most innovative automated driving system ever on the upcoming sedan. The new 2021 LS will feature a lidar-based Level 2 system that automatically enables the vehicle to switch lanes as well as pass other cars on the highway, utilizing its technology dubbed Lexus Teammate.

Lexus LS 2021
Lexus LS 2021 Interior

10 Mercedes

While Mercedes has been launching a slew of uber-futuristic autonomous prototypes at regular intervals, namely the F 015 Luxury in Motion, or the Future Truck 2025, it has finally announced its technological powerhouse — the all-new 2021 Mercedes-Benz S Class.

Mercedes-Benz F-015 Luxury in Motion Prototype
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz S-500

11 Audi

The Mercedes offering is a clear response to Audi’s flagship offering — the Level 3 equipped Audi A8. However, due to the lack of clear regulations, Audi has given up on adding its Level 3 autonomous drive-assist system, Traffic Jam Pilot to its cars. The German automaker announced on April 28, that it would no longer add its Traffic Jam Pilot system to the current-generation A8 sedan in Europe or anywhere else in the world.

AUDI A8

The Progress So Far

The autonomous driving industry uses two benchmarks to measure progress — total miles driven, and manual override per 1000 miles. So, the higher the total miles driven is, and the lesser the manual overrides are, the more autonomous a car is. Turns out, the technology is a little more difficult to implement than originally thought. Autonomous cars work on the simple principle of taking information from their surroundings and making judgment calls, same as humans. To do so, machine learning is used to train the car based on millions of miles of data. But to collect this driving data, an imperfect machine has to be deployed on the road, which is potentially a risk to other vehicles and humans.

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