Autonomous vehicles are a part of the tech-infused future we are all envisioning to be a part of. Imagine a scenario where you are ready to go to work and instead of booking a standard cab, you call for an autonomous vehicle that has no driver. The self-driving car has full autonomy, and it safely drives you from point A to point B, without needing any assistance from the passengers onboard. While this exact scene might be a few years away, there are multiple companies working on making this a reality.
UK-based startup FiveAI competes with Google and Uber
FiveAI has been testing its self-driving cars in Croydon and Bromley boroughs of London since August last year. While it is on the same path as its bigger western rivals like Uber and Waymo, the company has faced almost no hostility from the public. For example, some autonomous cars by Uber and Waymo were defaced and repudiated by the people in the US.
However, FiveAI is doing comparatively well and the reason could be because it’s not as known amongst the people. The company also announced that it is aiming to soon commence public testing of its self-driving vehicles. It raised €30.6 million of total funding till now and is one of the best funded autonomous vehicle startups in Europe.
European automotive companies
Multiple big conglomerates like Google, Tesla and reportedly Apple are working on autonomous cars and others on other types of self-driving vehicles. Most such companies are based in the US but this doesn’t mean that Europe is lagging behind. Big European MNCs like Bosch, Audi, Volkswagen, BMW and others are also making moves to get a leg up against the competition.
Most of these companies are fostering partnerships, which will help them accelerate the pace of autonomous vehicle development. Continental has teamed up with Nvidia, while Daimer and Bosch have struck a deal as well. Alongside such collaborations, these companies are also pouring enormous funds in their Research and Development to zoom ahead in the segment.
Daimler has invested in Momenta’s Series B funding round, while Volkswagen is said to be in plans to invest €29.8 billion to EV and AV research in the next five years. With the increasing interests of big conglomerates in the segment, we might soon start hearing of acquisitions of self-driving automotive startups.
Diverse focus on autonomous vehicles in Europe
Europe is a different ballgame in comparison with the US. Most European cities have established public transit structures in place with people using them extensively. On the other hand, people prefer personal mode of transportation like cars in the US and other western countries. Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that there’s a push for automating public transit options. For example, there are driverless buses running in Estonia, Switzerland, Stockholm, and Bavaria.
Startups like Paris-based Navya and Easymile are working on such public projects. Additionally, the companies show promise as they have been well received and managed to raise considerable funds to reach their goal. Navya’s total funding till now stands at €64.1 million, while Easymile has raised €15.6 million in total funding.
While there are more autonomous vehicle developments happening in the US, Europe is in no way lagging behind. People here have differing needs and companies understand that as most startups and companies working on self-driving vehicles are careful to involve the public in their plans, take appropriate permissions in the cities they are testing their services. Additionally, the push to develop self-driving public transport vehicles can also be seen as a boon for the environment.
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