In the race to develop self-driving cars, winning does not necessarily mean coming first. General Motors has bolstered its claim to be the leading carmaker developing self-driving systems after Honda invested $750m into its Cruise division, with the promise of a total of $2.75bn over 12 years. The agreement follows on the heels of SoftBank’s $2.25bn injection in May. Yet of the many self-driving projects uunderway across carmakers, technology providers and start-ups, none have launched fully as public services. This means assessing who is “ahead” in developing self-driving cars is incredibly difficult.
“We see this as the race to the starting line,” Dan Ammann, GM president, said on Wednesday. Almost every big manufacturer is working on autonomous vehicles, a technology that promises not only to cut road deaths but also to open up potential new business models such as robo-taxi ride-hailing. On Thursday, Toyota announced its own partnership with SoftBank, the Japanese technology group, to provide transport and delivery services using self-driving vehicles.