Autopilot involved complex integration of different industries including traditional automobile manufacture and many emerging technologies, such as AI technology, big data and Internet of things. It is difficult for traditional companies to develop related technologies on their own in a short period of time, and thus technology companies from other industries now have a golden chance to enter this burgeoning market. Apart from Tier 2 companies like Lidar for new sensor with high accuracy, some AI startups began their development of autopilot algorithm and system solution for specific scenarios or general application; Internet companies based on their huge data, capital and comprehensive capacity tried to develop L4/L5 autopilot system for future transportation; Traditional OEMS and Tier 1 companies also tried to grasp the huge opportunity in autopilot industry by developing ADAS mode to make its products suitable for L1-L3 autopilot systems and establishing their own autopilot development team for driverless system through self-team-building or team merge.
L4 autopilot system enables vehicles to complete driving tasks without driver’s operation in specific driving scenarios, which has extremely high requirements for sensors, data, computing platforms and even the performance, redundancy and reliability of the whole system. Currently the cost of qualified sensors and processors for L4 systems is high, which limits its application in passenger vehicles. At present, the commercialized autopilot system products that have been successfully applied to vehicles are L1-L3 systems. OEMs and Tier1 companies add senior ADAS to the existing vehicle models to make the vehicles suitable for L1-L3 autopilot systems.
The emerging participants are mainly Internet companies and technology startups (usually with a lot of employees from research institutions for Internet companies). They spend most of their efforts in L4/L5 driverless autopilot system in specific fields. Compared with traditional companies, technology companies have large advantages in deep learning, neural network, big data and other advanced technologies, while their experience in hardware production is very limited compared with traditional companies. Waymo, one subcompany of Google, once wanted to produce vehicles on their own, while they then abandoned this idea and cooperated with traditional vehicle producers like Chrysler and Toyota. Actually, most technology companies developed in the same way, and some traditional vehicle producers tried to develop their own senior autopilot system with team from technology startups they purchased or invested in.