A Venn Diagram of the Murky Driverless Taxi Ecosystem

August 22, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Not a day passes without us seeing some major headline about global automakers and shared mobility providers working to revolutionize the mobility landscape. Last week Uber dominated the headlines when the company announced that its autonomous cars (souped up Volvo XC90 SUVs) will be available for its ride-hailing customers in Pittsburgh. And in this process, the company announced that it bought the truck automation company Otto, founded by a couple of former Google Car research engineers.  This was followed by Ford’s major announcement that it intends to deliver high-volume, fully autonomous vehicles for ride sharing in 2021. In addition, the company announced that it is investing in or collaborating with four startups on autonomous vehicle development and doubling its Silicon Valley team.

This torrid pace of acquisitions, expansions, and investments has created a confusing picture for the consumers about who owns what and who is doing what across the domain. I found this Business Insider graph (seen below), part of a big research report (cost $495) very useful in understanding the ecosystem that covers the auto OEMs, suppliers, startups, shared-mobility service providers, etc.  Though it doesn’t capture all the entities, particularly the start-ups, engaged in automated vehicle research/development, it makes a decent attempt to organize them into “bins.”

With heavy influx of venture capital money competing alongside deep pocketed organizations like Ford, GM, Tesla, Google, Uber etc, the race to build the unmanned taxis is now reaching breakneck pace. The traditional OEMs are on a buying spree or making deals with innovative start-ups, in and outside the Silicon Valley.   It is safe to say that pretty much all the automotive heavyweights in Detroit and Silicon Valley are vying for a slice of the lucrative yet untapped “autonomous shared-mobility” space. What I’d like to see someone take a stab at capturing/mapping all those entities involved (incl. those in finance, data warehousing, etc) and present that in an infographic. All I can comfortably say today is buckle up for the ride! It will be a while before this ecosystem stabilizes and be assured that there will be a steady stream of headline grabbing news is coming your way.