2020 seems like the magical year to expect self-driving cars.
Toyota made some waves this week when it announced its plan to market self-driving cars by 2020. And that got me thinking, where do we stand on the race to create autonomous vehicles?
Google has been hush when it comes to disclosing a timeline for their self-driving technology. In their August 2015 report, Google said they had no timeline to disclose, and the September report lacked any mention of a timeline whatsoever.
But Reuters reported in January that Google has been meeting with automakers to develop self-driving cars by 2020. Considering how many companies have announced 2020 as the year their self-driving technology is coming out, it only makes sense that the company that has logged 1.2 million miles on its self-driving cars would follow suit.
Google and Tesla are the boldest when it comes to self-driving technology. Whereas other companies involved in self-driving technology are only promising semi-autonomous vehicles by 2020 (with the hope of releasing fully autonomous ones in the following years), Google and Tesla both want to hit a home run at their first step to bat.
Google will not make its own car, but will partner with suppliers to release their technology. The tech giant has met with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen.
But Tesla could beat Google to the punch. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company will be rolling out its autopilot feature next month with fully autonomous vehicles being just a few years away.
And now rumour has it that Apple is entering the competition with a target ship date of 2019, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Journal report notes that Apple will not have a fully autonomous car at that time, and Apple has yet to say anything about developing a self-driving car.
Here’s our breakdown off all the companies developing self-driving cars and their timeline.
Google will most likely sell its software to automakers in 2020, but we've never heard a timeline from the company itself.
Google's cars collect data whenever they go for a spin that is then shared with other cars in the Google fleet. That way, when one car learns how to react in a particular situation, all the other cars are brought up to speed too.
As a result, Google's self-driving car software has gained 90 years worth of collective driving experience.
Toyota is pretty late to the self-driving cars game, but they are planning to have an autonomous Lexus available for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
The Lexus GS450h can navigate roads, merge lanes and overtake other vehicles. Toyota showed they were serious about self-driving cars when they announced their plan to invest $US50 million to build artificial intelligence into their vehicles in September.
The Guardian reported that Baidu, a search engine and technology company in China, has teamed up with BMW to release a self-driving car by the end of 2015. But the BMW website is sticking to the 2020 deadline.
We'll have to keep our eyes peeled, but for now, BMW's all-electric i3 can already park itself and come back to pick you up when you're ready.
Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe took the self-driving Nissan out for a spin in Tokyo's streets.
Nissan's self-driving cars will be able to change lanes, merge, overtake other cars, and exit off the highway, according to their website. The automaker has been working with researchers at Oxford, Stanford, the University of Tokyo, MIT and Carnegie Mellon to make driverless vehicles a reality.
Ford CEO Mark Fields expects to see self-driving cars on the market in less than five years, but adds Ford's cars may not be the first.
Ford created a team dedicated to self-driving cars in June, but won't fully commit to the 2020 time frame.
'Our approach is we may or may not come out with a (fully autonomous) vehicle in that time frame because our approach is when we do, we want to make sure that it is accessible for everyone and not just let's say luxury (car) customers,' Field told Forbes in February.
(GM's self-driving concept car the EN-V)
General Motors has not provided a definitive timeline for their self-driving technology, but on their website they write, 'we expect semi-autonomous vehicles to be available to customers before the end of this decade and the technology for fully autonomous vehicles capable of navigating the roadways ready during the next decade.'
That doesn't speak to whether GM self-driving cars will be ready by 2020, but it shows an awareness about the general time frame for this technology. GM will release a Cadillac CTS in 2017 with semi-autonomous functions, like hands-off lane following.
The 2016 prototypes will only be driven by employees on GM's Warren Technical Center campus.
Apple's self-driving car project -- known as Project Titan -- has a target ship date of 2019, according to reports.
But without any confirmation from the company, it's hard to tell if Apple will actually beat Google to the punch.
Daimler, the maker of the Mercedes-Benz, plans to be the first to release self-driving cars in 2020.
'We want to be the first to launch autonomous functions in production vehicles. You can be sure we will accomplish that in this decade,' Thomas Weber, Daimler head of development, said in 2013.
Weber showed he was serious about that promise when the Mercedes-Benz S 500 Intelligent Drive completed a 100 kilometer (62 mile) journey autonomously in 2013.
Additionally, the Mercedes' F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car has screens and seats that face the center of the car to provide an example of what self-driving cars in the future could look like. The car can be seen at the Consumer Electronics Show January 6-9, 2016.
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