What was once a dream of science fiction movies is becoming a reality, as companies the world over are raising billions to support new “driverless” car technologies.
While Tesla has had automated driving as a featured part of its cars for several years now, other companies are looking to vastly expand the scope of driverless technology.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is in negotiations to buy Zoox Inc., a company that is developing the capabilities to create “electric-powered robot taxis.” General Motors has raised $7 billion for automated driving development. Volkswagen has invested over $2 billion into the sector. And, finally, Didi Chuxing Technology Co., a Chinese company, “raised more than $500 million in a funding round led by SoftBank Group Corp. for its autonomous-driving subsidiary.”
These investments are much more than just a pipedream.
As referenced earlier, Tesla has already successfully integrated driverless technology as a main feature of its vehicles. As you read this, many Tesla owners across the world are able to scroll on their phone, read the paper, have some breakfast, or do almost whatever else they want in the driver’s seat while the automated driving technology is activated.
Now, other tech and auto companies want a skin in the game.
The COVID-19 pandemic may even be spurring this big financial splash in the sector faster.
Neolix, a maker of urban robo-delivery trucks, made an interesting claim recently. The Beijing-based company said orders for its self-driving delivery vehicles were soaring because the coronavirus epidemic had both cleared the roads of cars and opened the eyes of customers to the advantages of driverlessness. The idea is that when the epidemic is over, the new habits may well persist.
Neolix last week told Automotive News it had booked 200 orders in the past two months after having sold just 159 in the eight months before. And on 11 March, the company confirmed that it had raised US $29 million in February to fund mass production.
Only time will tell if the massive investment in driverless cars will push these companies across the finish line or make their bottom lines burnout.