Posted by: coastcontact | August 11, 2017

Self-driving Car Timeline for 11 top Automakers

As I drive a 2001 Nissan Maxima that has gone about 118,000 miles and is still a smooth operating car with dirty upholstery and cruise control that has stopped functioning, I believe it is time for something new.

Aren’t self driving cars about to be the next big thing in just a year or two?

I found the following summary of when this is likely to happen.  Abridged article from dated June 4, 2017

Should I wait another few years?  After all the car still runs quite well.

A company by company examination of public investments by leading car makers and statements from their top executives makes it clear that most car companies are betting self-driving technology is inevitable, and they’re all jumping in with investment and initiatives.

Defining “self-driving” by level

Level 1 automation: some small steering or acceleration tasks are performed by the car without human intervention, but everything else is fully under human control

Level 2 automation: like advance cruise control or original autopilot systems on some Tesla vehicles, the car can automatically take safety actions but the driver needs to stay alert at the wheel

Level 3 automation: still requires a human driver, but the human is able to hand some “safety-critical functions” off to the vehicle under certain traffic or environmental conditions. This poses some potential dangers as the major tasks of driving are transferred to or from the car itself, which is why some car companies (Ford included) are interested in jumping directly to level 4

Level 4 automation: a car that can drive itself almost all the time without any human input but might be programmed not to drive in unmapped areas or during severe weather. This is a car you could sleep in.

Level 5 automation: full automation in all conditions


GM: Rumors of self-driving vehicles by 2018

Unlike other big car makers, GM has not laid out a specific timeline for its self-driving cars, but the company has made it clear it’s moving aggressively in that direction. In December, GM CEO Marry Barra wrote, “We expect to be the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant.” The focus will be on ride-sharing, rather than the individual buyer.


Ford: Truly self-driving vehicles by 2021

Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields told CNBC that Ford plans to have a “Level 4 vehicle in 2021, no gas pedal, no steering wheel, and the passenger will never need to take control of the vehicle in a predefined area.” Ford actually plans to skip right over Level 3 automation and go straight to Level 4. In the company’s tests, chief technology officer Raj Nair found that Level 3 automation would lead to engineers dozing off and not being situationally ready to take over when called on. CEO Mark Fields claims that Ford will have cars with no gas pedal and no steering wheel driving people around in select cities by 2021.


Honda: Self-driving on the highway by 2020

At the end of last year, Honda announced it was in discussions with Waymo, an independent company of Alphabet, to include Waymo self-driving technology in Honda’s vehicles.


Toyota: Self-driving on the highway by 2020

Toyota has been one of the most skeptical car companies when it comes to autonomous vehicles, but in 2015 it made a big investment to catch up. Toyota is investing $1 billion over five years in the Toyota Research Institute to develop robotics and AI technology. The company hopes to launch products based on its Highway Teammate programs in 2020, which would also be just in time for the Tokyo Olympics.


Renault-Nissan: 2020 for autonomous cars in urban conditions, 2025 for truly driverless cars

Renault-Nissan is counting on its new partnership with Microsoft to help advance the company’s autonomous car efforts. Renault-Nissan plans to release 10 different self-driving cars by 2020.


Volvo: Self-driving on the highway by 2021

Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in an interview, “It’s our ambition to have a car that can drive fully autonomously on the highway by 2021.” He envisions that full autopilot would be a highly enticing option on a premium vehicle and will initially be priced at $10,000.


Hyundai: Highway by 2020, urban driving by 2030

Hyundai is working on self-driving vehicles but with more of a focus on affordability. In an announcement, Hyundai claims it is “developing its own autonomous vehicle operating system with the goal of using a lot less computing power. This will result in a low-cost platform, which can be installed in future Hyundai models the average consumer can afford.”


Daimler: Nearly fully autonomous by early 2020s

Daimler announced this month a high-profile development agreement with Bosch, one of the largest parts suppliers. The goal is to bring both Level 4 and Level 5 autonomous vehicles to urban environments “by the beginning of the next decade.” This announcement came less than a month after Bosch announced its own collaboration with chip maker Nvidia to develop self-driving systems.


Fiat-Chrysler: CEO expects there to be some self driving vehicles on the road by 2021

Fiat-Chrysler also teamed up with Waymo last year to test some self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.


BMW: Fully self-driving vehicles possible by 2021

Last year, BMW announced a high-profile collaboration with Intel and Mobileye to develop autonomous cars. Officially, the goal is to get “highly and fully automated driving into series production by 2021.”


Tesla: End of 2017

As a smaller startup car maker, Tesla has always focused on pushing the edge of technology. Last year, Tesla began making sure all its cars had the hardware needed for full self-driving capabilities, even before the software/data was ready. Tesla constantly updates its car’s software to improve safety.

I have no car payments now and  the car still runs quite well.  Maybe some new tires and I will ask the mechanic what is the cost of fixing the cruise control.  


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