Space-Race to Self-Drive

You know those cringey movies where the tipsy blonde in the LBD hops into a taxi and sighs, ‘home… I’m going home.’ and the taxi driver sits there wondering where the hell ‘home’ is? Well think more Timecop, minus Van Damme, where the car will actually respond and take you home rather leaving you parked outside the pub, staring out of the window wondering why the taxi driver hasn’t read your mind and moved yet. That technology is here to prevent those awkward situations, and it won’t put you at risk of being attacked by a man appearing out of thin, poorly edited CGI either.             

China vs USA 

It’s like the moon all over again, except this time, it’s China. The Chinese are known to be an economic superpower and one of the most hardworking cultures in the world, America on the other hand do nothing unless its jumbo sized, meaning we can expect to see literally ‘great’ things from both countries. They owe their progression to their relaxed rules in terms of what they can and can’t do. For the most part, you can do what you like as long as it’s not explicitly prohibited – like if Pizza Hut’s rule was ‘Don’t steal our pizza,’ you could technically steal pizza sauce, you could steal a bit of cheese too just as long as you’re not stealing actual pizzas. This is not how it works in Europe, and probably the reason why the main companies who have already launched autonomous vehicles are American; Google’s Waymo, GM – Cruise, and China’s Baidu Apollo.  

Leaving Europe in the Dust 

Wei Dong, Vice President of Baidu’s Intelligent Driving Group, has already begun to roll out 8 RoboTaxi schemes in Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen. People can hail a cab and get driven to their destination by the car, along with a safety driver for the time being. Chinese companies have also launched some testing cars in California, and among the top 10 companies based on miles driven, China’s PonyAI, Didi and AutoX are considered the global gold standard. Europe are notably absent due to the stricter regulations on testing and deploying but will hopefully catch up thanks to promising companies such as Cavonix and NAVYA.  

Conclusion 

Self-driving tech is not as far into the future as Douglas Quaid of Total Recall made it seem, and despite Europe being low in expectations for the first commercialised dealer in autonomous vehicles, the prospect of this technology becoming available at all is something to be excited about, and they won’t be hilariously out of place ‘cybertruck’ looking vehicles.

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