Google leads the way in software and self-driving car implementation, report finds


If the key to self-driving cars is software that can interpret all vehicle sensors and mimic driving experiences, then Google is the current technological leader, according to a research note from IHS Automotive.

The firm estimates Google has invested almost $60m in autonomous vehicle research and development, as well as arguing the tech giant will have a “major impact” in the coming years.

The argument over who will take the crown in the connected car space, be it technology companies, such as Google, Apple and Microsoft, or more traditional vehicle manufacturers, continues to rage. IHS believes that, unlike the traditional players, Google in particular will have an advantage due to its ability to leverage adjacent technologies, such as robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Egil Juliussen, senior research director at IHS Automotive, argues: “No other company has as much relevant technology to advance autonomous driving software.

“Google is in a unique position to leverage adjacent technologies for self-driving car software,” he adds. “And its strategy and goal is to provide the software and map infrastructure to allow mobility services to anyone – via fleets of driverless cars – within a decade or less.”

The report also highlights the concept of car as a service (CaaS), which IHS defines as an extension of car sharing but to include driverless vehicles. Again, the research firm argues Google leads the way, putting its chips behind the search giant in developing the software and maps that can be the basis for driverless vehicles within five years. CaaS will be deployed before 2025, it adds.

Elsewhere, IHS assesses that electric vehicles are the natural choice for driverless cars, as they can easily recharge using existing and growing public charge networks. There will be more than seven million public charging points around the world by 2021, the research firm predicts.

Despite this bold proclamation, not everybody is convinced of Google's stature in the driverless cars space. Plextek Consulting argues that a driverless future can only become a reality when a number of diverse stakeholders come together.

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