In a typical David and Goliath fight, the hidden war raging at this moment is not about electric vehicles, EV and the cumbersome hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle, FCV race. The real fight is happening behind closed doors on how to allow autonomous vehicles to operate, pitting traditional carmakers in Detroit against the faster moving Silicon Valley in California.
Autonomous Driving Fight Pits Detroit Against Silicon Valley
The real kicker happened when the DMV’s proposed to allow autonomous vehicles with drivers with special licenses to be tested on public roads. As was to be expected, this raised a lot of criticism from Google, a lot of PR from Tesla Motors, and obviously praise from traditional carmakers caught lagging behind.
But carmakers are not stupid either, and both GM and Ford, the latter announcing it was partnering with Google on its automated driving solution have already moved funds to work on such technology. The idea is that test driving autonomous vehicles in Detroit is a better representation of the many different atmospheric landscape our country has. Best wait for CES to see a little clearer here.
Autonomous Driving, Detroit vs. Silicon Valley?
Elon Musk is not one to sit idly while carmakers slowly move into position. Tesla Motors has announced that restrictions will be placed on its autopilot system, such as a feature that alerts the driver every 5 minutes if hands are not on the steering wheel. The car would slow down and stop if the hands are not placed back. Tesla’s autonomous driving won’t work on speeds above 90 MPH, which shows Musk will not go down without a fight.
Autonomous Driving, Google & Tesla Motors?
The real question is how can Google and Tesla Motors leverage their resources and tremendous public likability to sway the Californian DMV back in its court? With different systems, that might even compete with each other, Tesla Motors and Google could easily tip back to Silicon Valley.
All in all, this fight is at the very beginning since autonomous vehicles and its technology is at its infancy. We are years away from truly autonomous vehicles, despite Musk’s promising this within two years. I can’t help but shake the feeling this is more about a behind the scene old traditional industry trying to slow down the startup Tsunami invasion. You can either adapt, beat it, or drop behind, but one thing is for sure, neither will go without a fight.
Hat tip Praveen Chandrasekar for starting the discussion on LinkedIn.