More Automotive Investments Focus on Autonomous Driving

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【Summary】All automakers are investing in new technologies, including autonomous tech, and so are many non-automotive companies.

Original Timothy Healey    Jan 21, 2017 6:56 PM PT
More Automotive Investments Focus on Autonomous Driving

Uber has more plans for the development of autonomous driving.

The company has purchased New York-based Geometric Intelligence, and it plans to move that company to San Francisco. Geometric's artificial-intelligence technology will form the basis for Uber's new AI Labs, which will use the tech for applications in its current ride-sharing fleet.

This follows the August purchase of OttoMotto, a startup company that is working on developing self-driving, long-haul semi-trucks. Uber has also been working on self-driving tech in Pittsburgh, a city where it has a research lab.

Meanwhile, as we've noted before, Apple is working on machine learning, as it told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in a letter.

Apple may or may not be working on an autonomous car, but it could it be working on software for other companies or automakers to use towards that end.

Ford, meanwhile, is working on raising $3 billion in long-term financing to fund its own investments in new tech. The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker has already said it expects to see autonomous vehicles introduced to the market by 2021. It's the first financing round for Ford in almost four years, and it comes on the heels of several years of profit driven by sales of ever-popular trucks and SUVs.

All automakers are investing in new technologies, including autonomous tech, and so are many non-automotive companies. That means none of this news is shocking. What is shocking, however, at least to some, is how deeply companies that aren't automakers – or have never been much involved in the automotive space before – are diving into the space.

Then again, maybe it shouldn't be shocking, given how much autonomous-driving tech, along with tech related to safety, comfort and convenience, is headed down the pike.

In Uber's case, the company may be looking to save money on labor by replacing drivers with autonomous tech. In Ford's case, the investment suggests it knows where the market is headed and it is trying to find the funding to capitalize on the opportunity. Finally, Apple knows that even if it was unable to successfully build a car on its own, it can offer automakers software or other tech for in-car use. It already offers the Apple CarPlay smartphone-mirroring system.

Keep an eye on the stock market and news to get a sense of where the automotive technology market is heading.

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