The day we take our hands off the wheel moves closer as companies like Uber, Google and Daimler rush to test and advance driverless technology. Developments in the self-driving vehicle industry have accelerated in recent months, driven by AI and deep learning. As the rush to dominate the market continues, the higher-level capabilities of deep learning and artificial neural networks will be key to unlocking the power of self-driving cars.
Self-driving cars appear to be inevitable; it’s more a question of when and where they will first take hold. The industry itself is still in flux, with regulations and key players changing as rapidly as the technology.
New Regulations are Underway
While some automakers have already begun testing self-driving cars on public roads, many have been hampered by legal requirements surrounding auto safety standards. A U.S. House of Representatives panel recently voted to move forward on a bill that increases the number of self-driving cars automakers are allowed to deploy without meeting existing safety standards – a move designed to facilitate testing. With 94 percent of crashes attributed to human error or decisions, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, lawmakers are keen to see self-driving cars become a reality.
Support is far from universal, though: India’s Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari recently announced his support for a ban on autonomous vehicles.
“We won’t allow driverless cars in India," he told the Hindustan Times. “I am very clear on this. We won’t allow any technology that takes away jobs.”
Lyft Joins the Effort
The highly competitive self-driving car market has a new player: Lyft. The ride-sharing company announced in July that it will open a new driverless car division in Silicon Valley. The company’s 700,000 drivers complete more than 200 million rides in 350 cities each year, giving the company access to detailed information on traffic patterns, bridges, construction and other data critical for building autonomous systems.
All Eyes on China
Daimler AG is investing in Chinese startup Momenta, which provides road sensors and high definition road mapping software. The news comes on the heels of Microsoft’s recent announcement that it is teaming up with Baidu’s open source car platform to provide cloud infrastructure, open software stack and other features that support self-driving car technology.
"Today's vehicles already have an impressive level of sophistication when it comes to their ability to capture data," Kevin Dallas, corporate vice president at Microsoft, told CNBC. "By applying our global cloud AI, machine learning, and deep neural network capabilities to that data, we can accelerate the work already being done to make autonomous vehicles safer."