With Apple’s announcement that the company is going to enter the autonomous automobile industry, it is expected to be a catalyst to accelerate the creation of something new within the industry. In mobile phone industry, Apple has innovated a lot of new things then such as a formidable supply network which in the end make the company a successful one in the market.
Self driving industry is seen as an opportunity for a lot of other companies across industries to expand their model business. Morgan Stanley estimated that it will save $488 billion for cost in accidents per year by 2022 and an additional gain of $507 billion in productivity as we can do something else more useful like discussing business opportunity while we are commuting in a car.
Google car is the best visualisation of what we can expect to be embedded in a self driving car, smart sensors and radars. Google does not work alone. Four years after the company unveiled its first self-driving car project, Google released the names of its partners.
Roush, a small company based in Michigan assembles the car’s exterior. LG Chemical, a subsidiary of Korean LG will make the batteries. Other companies such as Continental, Bosch, Frimo and ZFLS will make the powertrain, brakes and steering wheels respectively.
The most contradicting component to be used in self driving car is LIDAR. LIDAR is used in aerospace to map out the surrounding and it does not come cheap. Therefore, it is still debatable whether it is suitable to use in self driving car. Google apparently is going for LIDAR as Tesla said that LIDAR is too expensive for a self driving car and most probably is going for high-tech cameras as alternatives for LIDAR.
Velodyne was a company who started to build subwoofer technology in the old days, however, it branched out to LIDAR since 10 years ago and it became the market leader. Until now, the company built three different products, $80,000 sensor which used by some trucking companies, a $32,000 model and the latest is a $8,000 model which released last year and it is a size of a palm.
Quanergy which just entered the LIDAR market claims that it is able to reduce the price to $100 by 2018.
Mobileye, a Israel-based company who works together with Tesla among other carmakers to make high-tech cameras which is an alternative to LIDAR. The company is able to offer full hardware and software package which includes 360-degree view around cars and cost less than $1000.
As for the brains of the self driving cars, it is the processing chips. Some familiar chipmakers such as Qualcomm and Samsung apparently is moving towards automotive industry. Other known chipmaker, Nvidia, is also shifting from producing chips behind video games to cars.
Tesla, Google and Delphi is reported to purchase the chips from Nvidia. However, it is reported that Nvidia’s director of deep learning which is the centre of self driving car went to work for Apple.