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Other Technology and Non-Traditional Car Companies

Google is not the only non-traditional player getting involved in the autonomous car race. This area of technology is sprouting many new start-ups and partnerships, as well as bringing new foreign companies to American shores. Existing technology companies, such as IBM, are working with car companies or even working independently to explore ways in which they can be involved in the evolution of autonomous driving. Below are a few of the technology and non-traditional car companies who currently have a sizable footprint in the development of self-driving cars. 

Apple

The other major technology company that seems to be working towards a self-driving car is Apple. Apple’s self-driving car project is reportedly called Titan, but the entire enterprise is shrouded in secrecy. Based on the extremely high dollar amounts that Apple has been spending on research and development, many analysts believe Apple is hoping to develop and sell its own electric car, but little is known about how quickly this car might come to market and how autonomous the car’s features will be. 

Reports in 2016 indicated that Apple was focusing more on creating self-driving technology than on manufacturing its own car. Later reports indicated that Apple's self-driving car project was struggling, as dozens of people were reportedly laid off, and at least one report stated that Apple executives had given the self-driving car group until late 2017 to prove it was a feasible part of the company.

Baidu

Baidu is an internet search company based in China, currently holding around 80% of the internet search market in China. Like Google, Baidu is working to mass produce driverless cars and hopes to have them ready for public roads by 2021. Also like Google, Baidu’s cars will be truly autonomous and will not require the passengers to control the vehicle at all, requiring only a destination to operate.

Baidu does not plan to build its own car, but will outsource production to an as-of-yet unnamed automatker. Baidu plans instead to focus on the technology aspect of the vehicles. Baidu has been testing its technology in BMW 3-Series GTs in Beijing and Wuhu since December 2015, and in April 2016 the company announced that it was opening a research center in Silicon Valley. In August 2016, Baidu unveiled a new test car for its autonomous technology. This car model was smaller and less expensive than the BMWs previously being used, but would likely not be made available outside of China. During the same month, Baidu announced that it had received its permit to being testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in California.

In August 2016, Baidu, along with Ford, invested $150 million into Velodyne, a company that makes the radar system used by many autonomous car makers. This move could eventually lower the price of autonomous driving technology across the board. Even before consumer cars are ready, Baidu is scheduled to launch a shuttle bus that will run on a pre-set loop in China in 2018. 

To read more about Baidu’s plans in the autonomous car field, you can visit http://fortune.com/2016/06/03/baidu-autonomous-cars-production/ and http://www.forbes.com/sites/tychodefeijter/2016/06/29/chinas-internet-giant-baidu-to-mass-produce-driverless-cars-in-5-years/#47a17a2fdad6.

Faraday

Faraday, a Los Angeles based but China-backed company, is hoping to compete with Tesla as it gears up to begin testing self-driving cars in California. Faraday was given approval to test autonomous vehicles in California in early 2016, but has disclosed very little about its program.

Reports indicate that Faraday, like other companies, will begin with driver assistance systems in hopes of moving towards full autonomy. A company executive has stated that, like Tesla, Faraday will update software in its vehicles through automatic, over the air updates.

To read more about Faraday, you can visit http://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-chinaev-faraday-idUSKCN0Z72V4.



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