Will Apple Inc. and Google be the future of automobile industry?

We have heard a lot about the driverless car from Google. Though it is nowhere near production ready, it has generated interest in masses and insecurity amongst the traditional manufacturers. The talk is of self-driving cars, battery-powered cars, and information technology designed to link cars with data networks to make driving safer and more efficient.

What’s up with Google’s driverless car?

Google has just hired auto industry veteran John Krafcik as the CEO of its driverless cars division. Krafcik was previously president of car price comparison website TrueCar, a product development executive at Ford, and the former CEO of Hyundai Motors America. In a series of tweets, Krafcik called his appointment a “great opportunity to help Google develop the enormous potential of self-driving cars,” noting that “self-driving cars could save thousands of lives, give people greater mobility, and free us from things we find frustrating about driving today.” Krafcik’s hiring indicates that Google is getting serious about expanding its efforts, which many investors and analysts still consider a “moonshot.”

Google unveiled its prototype electric driverless cars last year and declared that its self-driving vehicles would be ready for mass production by 2020. As of July, Google’s 23 self-driving cars had been involved in 14 minor traffic accidents on public roads. In each case, Google claimed that human drivers were at fault instead of the computers. But that also means that for accidents to be completely eliminated, human drivers must completely leave the roads, and that probably won’t happen within the next couple of decades.

What’s going on at Apple Incorporated?

Apple met with officials at California’s Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss plans to test its self-driving Apple Car on public roads, according to a new report. This means quite possibly that we’re set to get a glimpse of the Apple car a lot sooner than most people figured. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple reportedly intends to use the BMW i3 as the base car on which Apple could strap on all the sensors and other technology.

If Apple applies for the necessary road permits, it will have to reveal the make, model and vehicle identification number of the cars it plans to test — as well as sharing details about the automobiles’ autonomous features and abilities, and naming any test drivers it plans to use. Today’s report additionally suggests that Apple has already named an engineering program manager for the so-called Project Titan. Also, hundreds of engineers are working on this driverless car.

What do traditional manufacturers say?

Automakers have also questioned Google’s intentions in mapping out roads for driverless cars. In June, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler warned against the data-mining potential of Google’s driverless vehicles, stating that “the only person who needs access to the data onboard is the customer.”

In response to Google mapping,  a consortium of German automakers teamed up to buy Nokia‘s HERE mapping division for €2.8 billion ($3.07 billion) last month. HERE Maps account for over 80% of all embedded auto maps worldwide, and it’s also producing 360-degree images of roads with its LIDAR technology for driverless cars. The company previously claimed that it would finish a high-detail map database for highways in the U.S. and Europe by 2018.

What do we at AutoColumn think?

Driverless car seemed a far-fetched not so long ago, but given the technology furtherance taking place, Google may be well on time to deliver driverless cars by 2020. In regards with Apple, nothing has been officially confirmed by the ultra-secretive company. However, the leaks are usually spot on and assuming Apple is making one of these, we can safely say a driverless car will be a reality sooner than later. Apple has a bloody good track record of reinventing products and ideas which create tremendous impact worldwide. This too looks to go in the same direction. But the main question to be answered; would it make sense in undisciplined and chaotic India? Looks a long shot !!

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