Daimler, Nissan both predict they will sell robocars in 2020
Recent news has been big. First, Nissan announced it would sell robocars by 2020 and now today Daimler has announced the same. (Note that the 2014 S-class is the first car with a self-driving feature, a "you must still pay attention" traffic jam autopilot.)
In addition, sources have claimed that Google is either about to announce a collaboration with Conti on Sept 12 or is making plans to produce its own car and taxi service. (I was quoted, though not about Google, in one of the artciles in the series.
While I don't comment on Google's plans, I do believe it has one big advantage in this race. It doesn't know what the rules of the car industry are, and has no desire to follow them. The car companies have huge resources, and better expertise on cars, but their internal rules and practices, honed over a century, are sure to hobble them. They won't take the risks that non-car companies will take, won't want to damage existing business lines, and will face attacks within the companies from the "company immune system" which seeks to attack disruptive ideas within big companies.
Google's main impediment is that it is also a big company, though an unusual one. But this business is so hard to enter that we have yet to see a start-up make a play.
The statements from all these parties will do lots of good, lighting fires under the other players, including the unannounced ones. I believe that in the 2020s, the software and sensor system which drives the car will be the most important part of the car, more important than even the engine. While the world will be better off if there are multiple competing suppliers of this part, whoever dominates this will dominate the car industry.
Sun, 2013-09-08 16:04
It can't come soon enough for me
Some people think that my 23-year-old rusting car could use replacing, but I don't see how any car that can't self-drive would be much of an improvement.
(BTW the Nissan link currently just points back to the same page.)
Sun, 2013-09-08 16:18
I wonder if the Nissan and
I wonder if the Nissan and Mercedes announcements are preemptive in nature to step on the Google / Continental announcement. Several car companies could say what they did. Anyway, it seems to set 2020 as a firm date. They don't specify what level of self driving the cars will do. I assume it will be level 3. Can't wait for the google / continental announcement.
The fact that google cant get a manufacture to put their service in a production vehicle is disturbing as it increases the risk for google. The manufacturers are daring google to make their own car believing they won't do it.
Sun, 2013-09-08 16:52
Gonna break the rules and make some enemies
Google didn't "know what the rules" of the television industry was, and had "no desire to follow them" when they did Google TV, too.
There is significant hubris in thinking that this is necessarily an advantage, especially in an industry like automobiles where they've already shown willingness and ability to hobble or kill upstarts in the past.
Google actually does not have a good track record in breaking into other industries directly, especially in hardware. Besides Google TV, there's also their attempt to sell the Nexus One directly to consumers, going around the carriers. There's the stillborn Nexus Q home entertainment device. There's ChromeBooks.
Google's major success in non-web services is Android, and it's not only indirect, its success can largely be attributed to Samsung independently putting their whole weight behind it, and the carriers wanting to maintain their same old model of carrier-branded (Verizon Droid, etc.), carrier-locked phones, and carrier-branded services, delivered by pre-installed crapware apps that can't be deleted.
If Google wants their software on as many cars as possible they'd probably be better off following the Android model than trying to get into the industry directly. It's questionable whether this would work for them twice, though. Just like the movie and TV industry is wary of tech companies after seeing what happened with digital music downloads, the auto industry is likely wary and somewhat hostile towards Google as a result of Android.
Wed, 2013-09-11 01:01
Google's track record
I will agree that Google has stumbled here. But I refer to the idea of the generic tech giant vs. the established car giants. While Google may or may not follow the right plan, I think they have an advantage not being bound to the old rules.
Google TV did indeed suck. A lot of google employees think so too, but I don't know the folks who did Google TV personally so I don't know what led them to the decisions they took. But Google is a failure tolerant company. So of course it should have a track record with failures. That's expected, and a sign of a good thing, not a bad thing.
Wed, 2013-09-11 23:45
Google is iterative
I have to disagree with your argument.
They failed the first couple of times on tv but now they've succeeded with their new $35 gadget.
Same with Android, way behind on phones on tablets, now they have superior products, including their own Motorola, which is likely to beat Samsung.
In autos, Tesla already creating superior products, and that's with less than 100th the resources of Google. The auto industry is full swing with Peter's Principle because of how old it is.
Not to mention that as Brad Templeton has extensively written about, robocars change the equation. The design of cars will fundamentally change and any institutional knowledge and branding automakers have become mostly useless.
Wed, 2013-09-25 13:50
> I believe that in the
> I believe that in the 2020s, the software and sensor system which drives the car will be the most important part of the car, more important than even the engine.
How can you drive without an engine? :-) no engine, no torque, no movement, no car :-)
In my opinion "vehicle electronic architecture" is the most important part of the cars in the nearest future. Even now it is not possible to imagine modern cars without the in-vehicle network. What can it give to us? What are the steps to be done?
- Unification of vehicle components = modular concept, with which it does not matter what type of engine you have: gas, diesel, hybrid or electric. Brakes. Suspension type. Number of wheels :-)
- The ways the connects to each other = Vehicle architecture. Standardized data flow
- And how they communicate with the world outside = Cars community on road. Maybe social behaviour in the future
Wed, 2013-09-25 18:43
A car will need an engine of course, and wheels, and fuel and many other things.
What I mean when I say the computer system will be the most important part, is that people buying or hiring the car will start asking what driving system it has, and not bothering to ask what engine it has, or other such things. They will focus on the quality of the driving, and the comfort of the interior.
Thu, 2013-09-26 02:19
Automated driving system is
Automated driving system is only one of the many components of the car. Like engine management, body computer, ABS, power steering, parking system.
Right now end-users do not care how many ultrasonic parking sensors their car has: eight all around the car or just four on the rear bumper.
You cannot say the same thing about the engine, the torque it can produce (a "fun to drive" thing), fuel efficiency and serviceability. And I do not think that will change much in the near future..
That is why I think the engine (all kind of them. not only ICEs) will never lose it's #1 position in the vehicle components importance list (unless we are talking about robotaxis and other not privately owned vehicles).
But I want to say that the whole in-vehicle network, it's architecture with all that flexibility and expandability, and external interfaces, whatever engineers can imagine - that is going to be the "skeleton" of the cars in the future..
Depending on how good it was designed, how stable it works, how fast and se?ure it can find the faults - there will be less claims from the end-customers, service workshops, or vehicle sharing networks. All that will increase vehicle brand / model popularity and ratings..
Well designed architecture allows the modular composition of the car, making it easier to maintain the car by replacing the whole component (like Tesla's batteries) at a time.
Just imagine, people have no more need to spend a lot of time in the workshops waiting for the car is being repaired. Spare parts logistics will be improved. Also the car itself can signal to the nearest or favorite workshop: help! i have a problem. please bring component ABC asap. I will be at your place in X-minutes..
For car makers it is essential that if the vehicle architecture is not flexible and you cannot quickly add extra features / components to the vehicle. Then you can lose "technology race" to the competitors..
The important word in the phrase "Internet of Things" is not the "Things", but the "Internet"
Plenty of "Things" people already had before :)
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Thu, 2013-09-26 11:04
Well, I do believe many more people will switch to hired taxis and there they won't care about the engine, but only does it show up promptly and take them in comfort from A to B, and what does it cost?
But even buyers of a car for themselves will think that way if they don't intend to manually drive very much. They will want slow, gentle rides, not powerful acceleration. They will care about the efficiency of the power train and its noise, but care about other things even more.
Just as today they don't care if it's an Intel or an AMD, or what underlying hardware is in their phone. I mean they care, but it's not the #1 thing on the list.
Thu, 2013-09-26 14:19
> Well, I do believe many
> Well, I do believe many more people will switch to hired taxis and there they won’t care about the engine, but only does it show up promptly and take them in comfort from A to B, and what does it cost?
For end-user yes, but what about the companies who own taxi fleets? They will try to get the most efficient engine or powertrain, with robust design, easy to maintain and repair and with the cheapest spare parts available on the next day..
It is only A to B trip. How one automated driving system can be totally different from another? They drive on the same streets, following the same traffic law, speed limits. The system of autonomous driving is just one of the components. Like power steering, or parking assistant sensors. Yes, there are twice less sensors on my car, but they still doing their job. And they cost twice less money to be replaced in case of acciden..
Car architecture itself that is the most important thing in the new car. Without it "the car of tomorrow" becomes "the car of yesterday" in a moment. Lets think not only about the within the car, but about how the car is being incorporated into "society on the road". How well service is being organized? How efficient is the fleet? This cannot be computed in the car, but in centralized
> But even buyers of a car for themselves will think that way if they don’t intend to manually drive very much. They will want slow, gentle rides, not powerful acceleration. They will care about the efficiency of the power train and its noise, but care about other things even more.
First customers of autonomous cars will not care abot the engine for sure. It will be the best available engine anyway, because the first cars will be top class models. When this technology will reach "the bottom class" cars, it will be quite an average thing. To that time what will really matter: is how fast it can be implemented in the next year's models and how much will it cost the car manufacturer and finally the end-customer..
> Just as today they don’t care if it’s an Intel or an AMD, or what underlying hardware is in their phone. I mean they care, but it’s not the #1 thing on the list.
That is because they are being supported by most of the software. In other words they both work in a well unified environment. I remeber times when AMD processors were not supporting some of OS functions. They were terrible..
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