Oldie but Goodie: How Ford is Leading in Autonomous Driving

Ford is over 100 years old, but they still got it. Navigant, a market research and consulting firm focusing on global clean technology markets, recently released a report covering the industry leaders in self-driving technology. The criteria used in deciding who were considered “Leaders” and who weren’t really opened my eyes. It’ll take much more than just industry-leading hardware and software development to top this list.

18 companies made the list, and each was rated on 10 criteria: vision, go-to market strategy, partners, production strategy, technology, marketing, etc. The top contenders were Ford, GM and the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The goal of this report is to provide insight on current capabilities and future goals of various OEM’s — all with the hopes of benefiting transit providers, mobility service providers, the investor community as well as automotive industry suppliers.

Ford CTO Raj Nair expressed his satisfaction of the criteria used by Navigant. Integration of hardware and software platforms is a complex task that Ford’s been tackling since 2013 (nothing too spectacular). However, we cannot forget Ford’s manufacturing capabilities: actually able to engineer and manufacture autonomous vehicles at a massive scale.

This should be a wake-up call for more tech-focused companies looking to compete with the likes of Ford or GM (cough, Uber, cough). Ford has invested in various partners such as Civil Maps (3D maps for self-driving cars), Velodyne (advanced Lidar sensors) and Argo AI to bring its autonomous driving business up to speed. However, sometimes a benchmark as vague as “strategy” could be the difference between an industry-leader and a mere “challenger”.

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